Ask a room full of herbalists what the first anti-inflammatory herb that comes to their mind is, and invariably you will hear the world “turmeric” among the replies. In fact, I attended an herbal conference where the session speaker asked just that. Nearly everybody in the room responded with a collective “turmeric”. Well, somebody said Curcuma longa.
It might have been me.
Not confirming or denying.
So while it is no great secret that turmeric has some great anti-inflammatory potential, the knowledge of how we can reap the benefits of this ocher herb is a little more elusive. While a daily curry meal may be appetizing to some and not others – a golden milk spiced chai has a nearly universal appeal.
This is to say, I have not served this to a single person without them loving it.
Very well, then.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has long been recognized in Ayruvedic tradition as an extraordinary healing herb. So profound is the anti-inflammatory potential of turmeric, even the most conventional of MDs seems to be aware of its benefits. That said, the active constituent of turmeric called curcumin is notoriously “unavailable”, biologically speaking. Figuratively speaking, turmeric is just not that into you. Real world translation: popping a capsule full of turmeric powder just isn’t going to do the trick.
So what’s an herbalist to do?
Make a Golden Milk Spiced Chai, actually.
In order to make curcumin more biologically available, we need to bring a few things to the picture. In this case we will use fat, heat and black pepper. Heat tends to volatilize stubborn constituents, and fat helps to emulsify the goods, essentially. Black pepper brings the spicy piperine to the party, potentially increasing the absorption rate by an astounding 2000% in humans (see the case study here). So, in the process of slowing simmering this golden milk spiced chai in a full fat milk of your choice, you are greatly increasing the nutrient availability and the healing benefits of turmeric.
Turmeric Herbal Energetics and Golden Milk Spiced Chai
Turmeric is a somewhat spicy, pungent warming herb with an astringent, slightly drying quality. Teamed up with other warming spices like ginger, black pepper, cardamom and cinnamon, this golden milk spiced chai is like a visceral campfire, spreading comforting warmth throughout the body. The type of warmth that loosens stiff, cold joints and aching muscles. Additionally, these spices, along with star anise and sweet fennel seed, offer great stomach soothing benefits, and antispasmodic action on the reproductive organs and lower gastrointestinal tract. If this weren’t encouraging enough, turmeric offers astounding liver supporting action, helping to facilitate both phases of the liver’s natural detoxification process. People with colder constitutions will find this golden milk spiced chai especially nourishing and comforting.
Golden Milk Spiced Chai includes organic black tea for gentle stimulating benefits. Although I have never found black tea’s natural caffeine to be a problem if I decided to have a cup at night, you might prefer a decaffeinated variety of black tea or an herbal variation such as honeybush or red rooibos. I purposely kept the ginger and black pepper content in the below recipe modest to make it crowd pleasing. Spices can be adjusted or substituted to your preference. Personally, I like it SPICY, adding roughly double the ginger and black pepper than I indicate in the recipe. I formulate this tea in larger particle form (as opposed to powdered herbs), then strain through a tea strainer before serving. Sweetener was not included in this recipe so people can adjust the chai to the personal tastes.
Golden Milk Spiced Chai Recipe
- 5oz Assam black tea (or tea of your preference)
- 1.5oz turmeric granules
- 1oz cinnamon chips
- .5oz cardamom pods, crushed
- .5oz ginger granules
- .5oz star anise, crushed
- 2 tablespoons fennel seed
- 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper (or more depending on your taste)
- Combine the black tea, herbs, and spices and store in an airtight jar in a cool dry place.
- To prepare, simmer one heaping tablespoon of blend in 8-10oz of a milk of your choice for 15-20 minutes. Strain through a tea strainer into mug, sweeten to taste and enjoy.