Updated: Nov 28, 2019
By Amrita |
The long-awaited, sacred secret is revealed: the method and recipe for our famous ashram Chai! And of course, the secret ingredient...divine love.
Many retreatants have asked how we make our delicious ashram chai. And of course, the secret ingredient is divine love, that takes the longest to prepare, but the other ingredients we can more easily find and share with you here, along with the health benefits and the tradition behind this Sat Yoga ritual.
The Spice of Eternal Life
Serving chai—Indian style black tea with a powerful brew of spices and sweetness—right after morning meditation during our retreats has become a tradition and a treat for our community and visitors. Actually, chai is an ancient tradition dating back probably several thousand years in ashrams all over India. The tradition of drinking strong chai continues today and we love when it is chai time!
There is something magical about the ritual of boiling the spices and milk together to create a delicious hot stimulating beverage with divine flavors to help wake up the mind and warm the soul. Then comes the even more refined ritual of slowly sipping and savoring the complex flavors of spices combined into a unique uprush of pure delight. It is the perfect libation for a sacred gathering of yogis in an ashram where all are dedicated to attaining the ultimate awakening, Self-realization, and Supreme Liberation.
Secret Sat Yoga Ashram Chai Recipe
Serves about 8 - 10 cups
Quantities are for reference - feel free to adjust ingredients to taste. You also may find stronger or less concentrated forms of each spice than what I am using here in Costa Rica.
- 1 and 1/2 cups of fresh sliced ginger
- 6 whole cinnamon sticks
- 4 Star Anise
- 1/2 whole nutmeg made into powder (with a microplane/grater)
- 1/2 Tablespoon of whole cardamom seeds
- 1 teaspoon of whole black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon of whole allspice
- 10 black tea bags
- 1 and 1/4 cups of milk of your preference (soy, coconut, almond, cows, etc.)
- 1/4 cups of tapa dulce (a local less-processed option that comes from sugar cane, but you could use brown sugar.)
Boil spices in 6 cups of water (ginger, cinnamon sticks, star anise, nutmeg, cardamon, black pepper, cloves, and allspice) for a full 5 minutes and let steep for a whole day.
Boil spices again and add then add black tea after you have turned off the heat. Steep again up to a full day.
Strain out all spices and tea.
Add milk and sugar to taste*.
Heat up again and in-joy!
*We like to use fresh cow’s milk (from cows raised lovingly on our land) and tapa dulce (a local less-processed option that comes from sugar cane)
Health Benefits of Chai
In addition to being a delicious treat, chai has many health benefits. The ancient ayurvedic medicine approach actually encourages drinking several cups of chai per day, as the ingredients work well together to tone the whole organismic system.
Black tea – stimulating and full of antioxidants.
Cardamom – Stimulates the mind and brings clarity; heals sore throats; also helpful for headaches and indigestion.
Cinnamon – A warming spice that enables the other spices to work faster, it also helps fight bacteria and brings an end to symptoms such as nausea, heartburn and a large number of other dysfunctions.
Cloves – Generates heat in the body to help fight colds and flu. It also helps kill parasites.
Ginger – Strengthens the digestive and respiratory systems, fights colds, supports cardiovascular health, reduces pain and inflammation, and has been identified as a cancer fighting root.
Nutmeg – Its smooth flavor helps to moisten airways.
Sat Yoga Morning Chai Ritual
You can visualize the scene in our ashram on the holy mountain of Arunachala: We wake up at the latest by 3:45am making our way to the meditation hall, on the way stopping to gaze upward at the dark luminescence of a vaulting sky full of shimmering stars. We walk up from our bhavan to take our place on a zafu for the sacred morning meditation sitting known as Amrit Vela—the hour of nectar.
After the end of formal meditation with the sangha (community), we hear the chant of the mantra, Om Shanti Shanti Shanti. During the post-meditation teaching, Shunyamurti weaves together a beautiful poetic invocation and induction into the realms of transcendental consciousness. We are filled with shakti and the joyous feeling of sublime, divine love from Shunya as he departs the lodge.
As Nature wakes up at the same moment, red and golden rays light up the new dawn, the many kinds of birds who live with us begin their enchanting music, the beauty of the world is revealed in the clear morning light, and we are ready for the reward that all yogis cherish: Chai is served!
Because chai has been connected for so many centuries with deep meditative states and with holy feelings, noble friendship, shared journeys into the infinite space of pure consciousness, and carefree detachment from the illusion of the ego, just a sip, just a whiff, can bring us into heart-melting love and spiritual empowerment. We drink the chai not only to warm up and wake up the body and embrace our simple rustic life in our peaceful mountains, but we are tasting and ingesting the vibrations of Divine Presence filling us within.
With every sip of chai, we are invited to a deeper embrace of both the view out into the glorious mountains and the view within of the Luminous Atman. As we drink in the chai, we also reflect on and take in the glory of the sparkling teaching we just heard at ever deeper levels of our hearts.
We invite you to come and experience Arunachala chai on one of our meditation retreats! You will find it an addictive elixir that will bring you to ever more wondrous states of total satisfaction. We hope you in-joy your next morning cup of chai and feel the pure love with which it has been made—for you.