Warming Herbal Chai Recipes for Each Dosha

Warming Herbal Chai Recipes for Each Dosha

Brrr...it's cold outside! Gray days are calling for some inside time—preferably on the couch, curled up with a soft blanket, watching a classic film. Add a toasty fire to this story and we're visualizing a lovely Sunday.

During this cold month, being dormant (like the plants) sounds perfect and natural. According to Ayurveda, the winter season is the time to slow down and reserve nutrients (similar to the plants) in order to sprout anew on a warm spring day, with an immune system ready to conquer the year ahead.

During the winter months, it feels instinctive to want to hibernate and spend more time indoors. The air outside can feel too cold and heavy to move through. At the same time, a lack of movement can decrease the internal heat we generate from normal activity.

Understanding and appreciating these seasonal qualities is important in supporting the immune system. Combined with the cold qualities in the external environment, the body can succumb to an increase of cold energy. As the season progresses, this may lead to seasonal imbalances.

Ayurveda recommends a counterbalancing lifestyle approach to help prevent imbalances: in the winter, balance the cold with warmth.

Herbal spiced chai is a delicious beverage for generating internal warmth and keeping the digestive fire burning. The pungency of spices like cardamom, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, tulsi, and turmeric can ease the stagnation that can stem from the cold, supporting movement and flexibility. The rich, enlivening aroma awakens the senses, adding a little pep to the step, even on those gray days when the sun seems to have disappeared.

These spices, along with ajwain (carom), licorice, and fennel support the respiratory system, circulation, elimination, and activate digestion. The combined benefits can help lessen the impact of winter's influence while nourishing the immune system.

So, the next time the sofa calls for a snuggle under a warm blanket, spice it up with a cup of herbal chai, as it's going to get colder before it gets warmer.

Kapha-Balancing Chai

  • 6 cups water
  • ⅛ of an orange slice or a nice pinch of dried orange peel
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 2 cloves
  • ½ teaspoon grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon  fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried tulsi leaves
  • Honey to taste* (optional)

Vata-Balancing Chai

  • 6 cups water
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ajwain/carom seeds
  • 1 teaspoon licorice powder
  • ¾ teaspoon dried tulsi leaves
  • Milk of your choice
  • Honey to taste* (optional)

Pitta-Balancing Chai

  • 6 cups water
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ teaspoon licorice powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried tulsi leaves
  • Milk of your choice
  • ½ teaspoon sucanat or jaggery (optional)


Add the water to a pot and heat over medium-high. While the water is heating, gently crush the cardamom pods with the back of a knife, or a mortar and pestle, to release the seeds. Crush the seeds a bit if you desire. Add all the spices to the water and let simmer for 20–25 minutes or until you have about ½ the amount of liquid remaining.  

Turn off the heat and add the tulsi leaves. Let the leaves steep for 3–5 more minutes, then add milk (optional) to your liking. Stir in the milk, strain, and serve. Makes about 2–3 servings.

*Honey—adding honey to hot tea reduces its beneficial properties, according to Ayurveda. It is best to add honey to the tea once it has cooled slightly. For the optimal results, do the pinkie test. If the pinkie can remain in the tea for 10 seconds, add the honey.