Throughout the summer, I love nothing more than sipping on a cold drink, served over ice, with lots of spicy notes, a hint of honey and a splash of creamy, milky comfort. I also love it when those drinks are easy and relatively cheap to make at home, supremely healthy and packed with antioxidants and an anti-inflammatory spice like turmeric that has few rivals, in or out of the kitchen.
If you do too, then here’s a summer sipper drink for you!
For many of us in North America, “chai” is a familiar combination of a mix of spices that can include cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger and black pepper. And even though this isn’t very traditional or “authentic”, I also like adding other spices like allspice, fennel or star anise when I’m making a chai blend from scratch at home.
However, in many parts of the world, the word chai simply means tea. So if you’re guilty of saying chai tea (consider me guilty as charged!), it’s actually redundant. Because chai is tea. Masala chai would probably be a better description because it consists of black tea plus spices and/or herbs in India.
In any case, the veritable nutritional hero of this beverage if ever there was one is the turmeric. You might not be familiar with turmeric per se, but if you’ve ever consumed common commercial yellow mustard, to which turmeric is often added to provide a yellow hue, you’ve probably already eaten it.
An astringent Indian spice that turns everything it touches a bright yellow (including fingers, counter tops and even my black granite sink – don’t worry, it eventually disappeared!), turmeric appears to have more health benefits that you can shake a stick at and it is emerging as one of the most powerful healing foods on the planet.
Turmeric is potently anti-inflammatory with an active ingredient called curcumin. It is rich in antioxidants and according to one of my favourite books in my nutritional library, Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease, turmeric’s health properties have been researched through thousands of human and animal studies, some of which have demonstrated curcumin’s abilities to combat more than 70 diseases and health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease.
According to Healing Spices, when it comes to Alzheimer’s Disease, curcumin has been shown to slow oxidative damage of neurons, reduce damage to neural synapses (types of structures or pathways through which brain cells can communicate), as well as reduce toxic metal levels that could be contributing to Alzheimer’s symptoms and progress of the disease . Regular intake of turmeric has also been proven to also slow down generalized age-related degradation of cognitive function and memory decline . Healing Spices also mentions turmeric’s ability to potentially reduce inflammation levels associated with numerous types of cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, various forms of arthritis, age-related macular degeneration and other eye conditions .
Much of the research has studied turmeric in large quantities (such as with supplementation). However, there are clearly some solid reasons to consider using it in your culinary adventures, too. Luckily, there are many incredible edible ways to use this flamboyant spice into our everyday cooking so from dinner to desserts and everything in between, I firmly believe that turmeric deserves a place at your table. And here’s a tip: you can also improve your body’s ability to absorb the active curcumin by combining it with black pepper in your meals.
All that nutritional info aside, this chai latte is full of spice and everything nice!
If you’ve never made cashew milk before, it’s made exactly the same way as almond milk, but it doesn’t need to be strained. Bonus for us lazy girls! Cashew milk is exceptionally luscious and compared to almond milk, I find it tastes less sweet and more neutral in flavour.
You could also substitute cow’s milk if you drink it and tolerate it, but be sure to watch your quantity of sweetener. Unlike nut milk, cow’s milk contains lactose (milk sugars) so you will likely need less honey than with the cashew milk. Don’t use cow’s milk if you want to make this vegan and substitute another liquid sweetener in place of the honey, such as maple syrup, coconut nectar syrup, stevia, brown rice syrup, yacon syrup, or maybe even molasses, etc.
For the chai black tea bags, I used Pukka Original Chai. You could make your own chai blend of course and you should—especially if you’re on holiday and have extra time on your hands—but I used a prepared blend this time. The Pukka Original Chai contains 100% organically grown cinnamon bark, black tea, ginger, cardamom and licorice. With this brand, I find that all of the spices, including the turmeric, are spicy, present and just barely muted by the added nut milk.
Spicy, floral, creamy and of course healthy, these Iced Turmeric & Honey Chai Lattes will make you happy. I’m pretty confident about that.
Iced Turmeric & Honey Chai Lattes
- For the tea base
- 3 cups boiling water
- 2 chai black tea bags
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- Raw honey to taste I use about 3 Tbsp
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- For the milk
- 2 cups homemade cashew milk or 1/2 cup cashews plus 2 cups water blended in a high-powered blender
- Ice cubes
Add the boiling water and chai black tea bags to a glass container. Let steep for a minimum of 15-20 minutes.
Remove the tea bags and while the tea is still warm, whisk in the turmeric, honey and sea salt. Let cool completely or preferably refrigerate overnight.
To serve, pour ¾ cup of the tea base into a glass and top with ¼ to ½ cup cashew milk. This makes 4 lattes using ½ cup cashew milk in each. Add ice cubes and enjoy!
I don’t know about you, but I could drink this all day. And since it’s so delicious and nutritious, I just might!
What’s your favourite summertime sipper?
Life is a plate… Eat up!
P.S. If you’re interested in the healing powers of everyday spices, you might like to check out the book I referenced. You can buy Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease on Amazon.
Sources: Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease. Sterling: January 2011.
 Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease. Sterling: January 2011.  Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease. Sterling: January 2011.