Getting up before dawn is not something I do naturally. Before I started practicing yoga, I used to love seeing the sunrise after a night out partying. In fact, the first time I joined a 7am yoga class, I had actually stayed up all night before. Left to my own devices, I'd wake up later and later each day. Bad luck to be an Ashtanga Yoga practitioner and teacher!
Whenever I get the chance to study with my teacher, R. Sharath Jois, in Mysore, I find myself getting up long before the sunrise. It’s never easy. This year I was assigned a 4:30am start time.
At this early hour, while the mind is calm and the physical practice gives way to the spiritual practice, it's very hard for me to wake up. The solution? Homemade vegan chai!
I like my chai strong and spicy, so be warned if you follow this recipe. If you drink coffee, you probably won’t be too shocked by the caffeine. If you’re used to a Starbucks chai or a little bag of tea, however, this will feel like rocket fuel. (Perfect for waking up at the crack of dawn!)
Makes 4 large servings or 8 small servings
- 8 cardamom pods
- 6 pieces of star anise
- 1 small stick of cinnamon
- 6 cloves
- 1 small bulb of fresh ginger, peeled and smashed
- 4 Tbs of jaggery sugar (This is an unrefined form of sugar readily available in India. You can substitute agave, honey or leave out the sweetener completely!)
- 4 tsp of black tea powder (I like Tata Tea powder, but it’s hard to find outside of India. You can use loose black tea leaves instead. I like organic Assam looseleaf tea.)
- 6 cups unsweetened organic soy milk
In a large pot, bring eight cups of water to boil. Add the cardamon, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.
Let the spices boil for five minutes to release their flavor. Reduce heat to a simmer.
Add black tea powder and sugar. Let simmer for three minutes.
Add soy milk. Let summer for another two minutes.
Pour through a tea strainer directly into a mug and enjoy.
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