Updated: Aug 19, 2021
Warming winter chills with spices
There are various heat producing, thermogenic spices that have the ability to help fight winter chills. We call these “warming” spices not because they are hot but because they have a warming effect on the body by speeding up your metabolism.
There are some well known warming spice blends and one of my favorites being Chai which translates to “Tea”, thus Chai Tea literally means "Tea Tea". Chai is a sweet spiced drink made from black tea, sugar/honey, spices, and milk.
These are the spices you will need to make your own Chai tea to warm up this winter and add some delicious scents to your kitchen!
(Cinnamomum cassia) also called Chinese cassia.
Cassia is a coarser, more spicy and less fragrant variation of cinnamon than that of Cinnamomum verum (Ceylon). It’s a beautiful tree, cultivated in China, South and Southeast Asia, and used since Biblical times.
Cinnamon powder can be used in biscuits, pastries, desserts, ice-cream, curries, pickles and meat products. Sticks can be added when cooking rice or milk dishes for a delicate flavour.
Cinnamon increases blood circulation and aids in tissue regeneration. Besides its vital role as a winter spice, cinnamon can also serve as an anti-inflammatory and help lower blood sugar levels.
Cloves are the aromatic flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae. Their name comes from the Latin word clavus, which means “nail”. They are beneficial for oral health, diabetes and may also help relieve the pain associated with headaches, arthritic inflammation, and toothaches. Cloves produce a large amount of eugenol, an oil that makes the skin feel warmer and increases blood circulation.
This intensely aromatic spice has a subtly sweet flavor that lends plenty of warmth to any dish with a slight note of bitterness and astringency that counterbalances the sweetness. Ground or whole cloves flavor soups, stews, meats, sauces, and rice dishes. Cloves are often used along with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice/ pimento in sweet dishes like stewed apples and pears, pumpkin pie, and gingerbread and in drinks such as mulled wine or chai. It’s also used in spice blends like Chinese five-spice and garam masala.
Ginger is a flowering plant whose rhizome, ginger root or ginger, is widely used as a spice and a folk medicine. Ginger has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional and alternative medicine. Ginger is mostly used to treat respiratory ailments and nausea.
It is characterized by a strong woody sweet smell. Ground ginger has a warm bite with a little sweetness, and a pungent and spicy aroma with some citrus and floral notes.
Dried ginger root powder is a convenient form for baked foods, sauces, curries, and chutneys.
True or green cardamom are native to the Indian subcontinent and Indonesia and come from the Ginger family. Cardamom is used as flavouring and cooking spice in both food and drink, and as a medicine. The pods are sometimes chewed for bad breath or digestive health.
Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic, resinous fragrance. It is a common ingredient in Indian, Middle Eastern, Arabic, and Swedish cuisine. In the Middle East, green cardamom powder is used as a spice for sweet dishes, as well as traditional flavouring in coffee and tea.
Nutmeg is the seed or ground spice of several species of the genus Myristica, a dark-leaved evergreen tree cultivated for two spices that is derived from its fruit: nutmeg, from its seeds, and mace, from the seed covering. Nutmeg contains an abundance of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and antibacterial properties including bacteria known to cause cavities and gum inflammation.
Nutmeg is a key ingredient in many baked goods. It has a warm, slightly nutty flavor and is often used in desserts, meat-based dishes, such as pork chops and lamb curry. Nutmeg also works well when sprinkled onto starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, pumpkin or squashes. You can use it alone or pair it with other spices, such as cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves.
These beautiful pods come from an evergreen tree found in the tropics. The star shaped fruit is harvested by hand when ripe and then dried in the sun or drying kilns.
Pungent, licorice- like aroma. Warming flavour that will remind you of cinnamon and cloves. Star Anise is used whole or as a ground spice to flavour stewed fruit, baked goods and mulled wine. It’s much loved in Indian curry blends and traditional Asian dishes. It pairs exceptionally well with duck, chicken and pork.
Used in blends like Chinese 5 spice, Vietnamese pho, Indian biryani, spiced chai recipes and garam masala.
Star Anise is full of antioxidants and has great anti-inflammatory properties.
Also known as Jamaica pepper, pimenta, or pimento. It got its name in the 17th century, when allspice berries were first imported to Europe, since it's said to taste like a combination of clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Allspice berries are harvested when green (unripe) and briefly fermented, then sun dried, during which they turn a reddish-brown.
Allspice is a warm-tasting spice whose primary aromatic compound is eugenol, also found in clove. It‘s fresh, sharp and woody. Can be used alongside cloves, mustard seed, black peppercorns, ginger, nutmeg, bay leaves or other aromatic herbs. It can be used in brines, mincemeat pie filling, in rubs for chicken and other meats and vegetables, pumpkin desserts, apple pie and warming winter beverages.
It has been used as an essential oil and medicinally due to its high concentration of antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory eugenol as a remedy for colds, menstrual cramps, and upset stomach.
Chai Tea Recipe:
For your Masala Chai Blend:
2 parts Cinnamon
1 part Green Cardamom
1 part Nutmeg (ground or nibs)
1 part Allspice
1 part Cloves
1 part Star Anise
3 parts Ginger
(use whole spices where possible)
Slowly heat 750ml milk plus 250ml water on the stove. (Adjust milk/water ratio for a more or less creamy chai)
Add 25ml of Chai spice mix to the milk and simmer for 4-6min. Do NOT let the milk boil!
Add 2x bags of Black tea (or rooibos for a Red Chai) & 2Tbs. Sugar.
Simmer for another 4min.
Strain the Chai into cups and ENJOY!
**Substitute milk with Almond milk & sugar with Honey for a more health conscious drink.**