Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Courage and Tea

It takes a lot of courage to fight cancer.  It also takes a lot of courage to help someone through cancer.  Frankly, there is nothing good about cancer at all, but I like the expression "Have lemons? Make lemonade" and so maybe we can look at it as an opportunity to let things that we love help heal us.

In my family's case, that is definitely tea.  I always say "Tea helps everything" and I truly believe that it does.  Tea is your warm little friend in your chilly hands.  Tea is an opportunity to chat with your friend, or mother, or cousin, or child.  Tea is simply wonderful.

Recently in our lives, in order to reduce sugar, we have all replaced the sugar in our tea with honey. That is a good start towards letting what we love heal us.  My mom and I still put a splash of milk in our black tea, and I figure the pleasure outweighs the negative effects of the dairy.  I personally love Tulsi Green Tea.  Or white tea.  Or peppermint tea. 

The following recipe is one I adapted from my dear friend Ingrid.  Every time you go into her house she has something fragrant and delicious on the stove.   This chai has true health benefits, especially for cancer. The anti-inflammatory benefits of the spices help cancer cells repair themselves.

So, back to courage.  You can do it!  Sit down with a friend and a cup of chai, and let both the companionship and the tea make you stronger.  "The trick is not to rid your stomach of butterflies, but to make them fly in formation."

Holiday Chai

There is nothing better in the winter than a fragrant pot of home-made chai on your stove! The whole house smells of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and general holiday goodness.  Made without sugar or dairy, this is also a very healthy and nutritionally-beneficial treat!

Makes 8 small cups of tea

6 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
10 cardamom pods
1 heaping Tbsp. peppercorns
2 vanilla beans, sliced open length-wise
grated nutmeg
10 whole cloves
2 inch piece of ginger, in slices (skin on)
1/3 cup honey
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
4 decaf black tea bags 
2 cups oat milk

(I like the deep flavor of the tea, but including the tea bags is actually optional. If you'd like to go tea-free, it is a milder but delicious treat without it! )

-In a large pan, bring the water and all spices to a boil. 
-Reduce to a simmer and add sweeteners. Continue cooking for 10-15 minutes.
-Turn off stove and add tea bags. Let tea and spice flavors meld for several minutes.
-Strain the ingredients into a smaller pot.
-Return smaller pot to stove, add the oat milk, and heat to desired temperature for serving!

A few nutritional highlights: 
Cinnamon, nutmeg, & cloves are all digestion aids, anti-inflammatories, antimicrobials, and antibacterials. Nutmeg also contains a compound called myristicin, which prompts a tumor-fighting ability in the body!

Ginger is also an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, and it also reduces nausea. 

Honey has anti-cancer properties and aids liver function.

Black tea contains relatively high amounts of vitamins C, D, and K, as well as a number of important minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium and more.

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