Homer Simpson: How do you relax?
Lisa Simpson: Oh you know, Chai Tea, Tai Chi…
Last October, I hiked the Lena Lake trail with my friend Eric. As we trudged upward in 27 degree weather, I kept thinking, where’s the chai stand? Perhaps around this next switchback? Surely I smell spices! I have never been to a chai stand, but what better setting for a first encounter than smack in the middle of the forest on a cold day? It would have just that touch of the whimsical and absurd that I long for when I have just slipped and landed with half my face in an icy creek.
The other day I went running in slightly dewy weather with my friend Jessica. We returned to my kitchen to warm up with chai from a recipe I procured at Solbar, the restaurant at Solage spa in Calistoga. A couple years ago I went on a girls’ weekend to this ritzy locale. When you see the website, you will wonder if everyone there looks like those people on the home page. Yes, everyone but me. I felt pitifully out of place among the well-groomed, L.A.-ish set. California’s drought broke that very weekend, and I slopped around in shorts and flip flops, (I might as well have been wearing a visor that said “Where’s the Beach?”) while all the wise Californians looked like sleek secret agents in their boots and stylish trenches. But all pain was forgotten when, upon our departure, I spotted a carafe of free chai and these cunning little recipe cards!
It was too sweet, but that’s what I always say about chai. When I made it for Jessica, I used honey, but omitted the sugar; she found it not sweet enough, which is easily remedied. The only non-homemade chai that is the right sweetness for me is Nature’s Guru unsweeted cardamom chai. This is my most beloved hot beverage of all time. And it’s powdered! Instant gratification!
I do believe in the healing and (Lisa Simpson can vouch) relaxing power of tea. It is my morning/afternoon drink of choice, but I limit myself to 7 cups – moderation, right? Yesterday my little daughter was suffering from a cold, and was a snarly-haired, congested mess. I poached her in a hot tub for half an hour, then basted her with lotion and rolled her up in an electric blanket to roast on medium for what turned into 3 hours, while she read her book. I reconstituted her with water and when the timer rang, she was good as new. She just needed to be topped off with a spot of hot tea and, I admit, a sprinkle of kisses.
P.S. Join my facebook campaign to put chai stands in national parks and forests! #whyshouldn’twehaveeverythingwewantwheneverwewantit?