whole herbs used in chai tea recipe
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Homemade Chai Tea for Digestive Relief

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This is one of my favorite teas. It’s great for soothing an upset digestive system, and I love the way it tastes. It is perfect for cold days to warm and nourish the body. “Chai” is a Hindi word that comes from the Chinese word for tea, “cha.” Chai has a long history rooted in the South Asian Ayurveda healing tradition, and multiple variations of chai have arisen over time.

Chai Tea Ingredients

Properties of Chai Tea According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) each herb has its own taste, temperature and properties. Rarely, do you see one herb being used in an herbal formula. Instead, several different herbs are combined to create a harmonized formula. You may be surprised to learn that many of the herbs in the TCM pharmacopeia are found in your own kitchen. This Chai Tea recipe is the perfect example of that.

Chai Tea Recipe


  • 12 Green (or white) cardamon pods
  • 1/2 tsp whole red peppercorns (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbspfennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp whole clove
  • 2 4-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 3 Tbsp candied ginger
  • 1 1/2 c. Red rooibos tea (decaffeinated) or black tea

Makes approximately 16 oz of tea.


Preheat oven to 350 F. With a knife slice open the cardamon seeds length-wise, or gently crack them open with a mortar and pestle.

Place a piece of parchment paper on a small cooking tray. Organize all of the herbs into piles to easily distinguish them. Do not add the tea or ginger yet.

Have fun with the quantity of the ingredients. If you prefer one more than another, add more. Based on the picture below, I am a huge fan of fennel seeds!

Bake for 5 minutes or until they become aromatic. Remove from oven and let cool.

Crush the herbs in a mortar and pestle, or with a rolling pin. You may need to use utility scissors to break up the cinnamon if you did not do that prior to baking.

Add all of the ingredients to a small bowl including the ginger and tea. Stir. Spoon into clean, dry mason jars for storage.

Use about a teaspoon of tea at a time. You can use a tea strainer or tea bags to make to make tea.

Individual Properties of Chai Herbs According to Traditional Chinese Medicine

Cardamon pods

Latin – Amomi Fructus. Pinyin- Sha Ren. (p. 479 in CHM)

Considered to be acrid, warm, and aromatic. Enters the Stomach and Spleen channels. Promotes the flow of qi, warms the middle, and transforms dampness to benefit the appetite. Beneficial for distended abdomen, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Black peppercorns

Latin- Piperis Fructus. Pinyin- Hu Jiao. (p. 702 in CHM)

Considered to be acrid and hot. Enters the Large Intestine and Stomach channels. Eliminates pathogenic cold in the stomach and intestines. Excessive amounts are contraindicated in pregnancy. It warms the middle and disperses cold from the stomach to help with vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Fennel seeds

Latin – Foeniculi Fructus. Pinyin – Xiao Hui Xiang. (p. 697 in CHM)

Considered to be acrid and warm. It enters the Liver, Kidney, Spleen, and Stomach channels. It harmonizes the middle, warms the lower burner, and treats bulging disorders. Helps abdominal pain due to cold, helps with indigestion, reduced appetite, and vomiting. Works well with gui zhi (cinnamon).

Coriander seeds

Latin – Coriandrum sativum. Pinyin – Hu Sui. (p. 121 in CNT)

Considered to be acrid and warm. Enters the Lung and Spleen channels. Dissipates cold, produces perspiration, balances qi, disperses blood stasis, loosens digestive obstruction, reverses counter flow qi. For lack of appetite, nausea, indigestion, digestive stagnation due to cold in the abdomen.


Latin – Caryophylli Flos. Pinyin – Ding Xiang. (p. 694 in CHM)

Considered to be acrid and warm. Enters the Kidney, Spleen, and Stomach channels. Warms the middle, directs the Stomach qi down, treats hiccoughs, and fortifies the Kidney yang. Beneficial for vomiting, hiccoughs, abdominal pain, lack of appetite, and diarrhea.


Latin – Cinnamomi Ramulus. Pinyin – Gui Zhi. (p. 8 in CHM)

Considered to be acrid, sweet, and warm. Enters the Heart, Lung, Bladder channels. It is light and warm, it releases the muscle layer, unblocks yang qi, and warms the middle. Beneficial for releasing the exterior due to wind cold pathogen (a type of common cold). Beneficial for painful menstruation due to cold.

Ginger root

Latin – Zingiberis Rhizoma Recens. Pinyin – Sheng Jiang. (p. 30 in CHM)

Considered to be acrid and slightly warm. It enters the Lung, Spleen, and Stomach channels. Dispersing in nature, benefits the stomach, alleviates nausea, stops coughing, and transforms phlegm. Releases the exterior due to wind cold patterns, it warms the middle to alleviate nausea and vomiting due to cold. Helpful during pregnancy to alleviate nausea. Benefits the lungs to alleviate cough and phlegm patterns due to cold. Relieves toxicity due to things like food poisoning.

Note: All of these herbs have other properties. The ones listed here pertain primarily to digestive functions.


General information: Acupuncture Today, Herbs & Botannicals, alphabetical listing. See, for example: Cardamom Seeds

CHM” page numbers cited above: Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica. 3rd Edition, 2004. Eastland Press, Seattle. www.eastlandpress.com

“CNT” page number cited above: Chinese Nutrition Therapy: Dietetics in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Translated from the German, 2nd edition, 2003. Thieme New York. www.thieme.com

About the author

Teri Calandra

Teri Calandra Dipl.Acu, MSTOM, L.Ac., LMT, RMT

Teri began her studies in energy medicine as part of her own personal development journey, and continues to to learn and integrate that knowledge into her practice. Teri is the founding practitioner of Calandra Center for Health & Wellness in Schaumburg, Illinois. She is licensed by the State of Illinois in acupuncture (L.Ac.), and board certified through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

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