Cardamom Delights: Drink Slowly, & Reverently

in Natural Medicine4 years ago (edited)


Cardamom is one of the most intoxicating scents I know, soft and seductive, wisps of Arabia or India, winding it's gentle way through coffee beans and sugar granules. In share houses us girls would add cardamom to homemade chai, biting the green pods with our teeth to allow the milk to swirl through the capsules to the black seeds within. Heated in dented saucepans and poured into chipped cups, we would pour heart secrets into the scented air and smoke cheap tobacco by candelight.

Later, cardamom would nestle beside cloves and oranges and earthy sticks of cinnamon in a warmed spiced wine heated on campfires in the cold winter of content I spent living in a truck on a stolen field in the south west of England. Too warm, and the alcohol dissipates - too cold, and the spices don't infuse. Homemade is better - the ladles of sugar in German gluwein bought at Christmas markets sets my teeth on edge.


There is something distinctively exotic about cardamom, imagining in travelling on the old spice caravan routes on the back of camels or sold in hessian sacks in markets heady with colour and aroma. A tea becomes something divine when brewed with cardomom pods and rose petals. Sipping it with folded legs and a book in the warm sunshine is heavenly - the world stops, for a blessed moment.

Drink your tea slowly and reverently,
as if it is the axis
on which the world earth revolves
– slowly, evenly, without
rushing toward the future;
Live the actual moment.
Only this moment is life.
- Thich Nhat Hahn

As I approach these strange days of menopause, which hovers about not quite entering the harem populated by the younger selves I was but whistling about the tent, sending me occasional hot flushes and heightened pain in my legs through the inevitable lowering of oestrogen, I seek plants to nourish and support me - leaves and seeds and roots. Cardamom is scrawled in my journal, making the cut of plants to walk with me on this journey of mine.

It's anti-flammatory, helping with leg pains alongside turmeric - in fact, some tout it as the new turmeric, although that could be a bit of a stretch. It can be chewed to help with stomach pains, and helps with oral hygeine as it is known to have strong antimicrobial properties.


Whilst cardamom on it's own is not going to be a miracle work, combined with turmeric (a proven phytoestrogen that can help with hot flushes, bone density and a wealth of other menopausal inconveniences that I may or may not become affected by - it's a painkiller, an anti-oxidant and more) and my favourite ashwanghwa. Ashwanghwa lends a nutty creaminess to the chai, and helps with stress, brain function and boosts energy levels. It is absolutely my favourite adaptogen.

Rose I add for it's decadence more than anything - there is something exotic and sensual about adding florals to teas, but rose itself has many medicinal benefits, not least the mere aroma of which sends me swooning. It is also a heart medicine, nurturing those with depression or anxiety. I add nuts for a little complexity but also the added calcium and magnesium, as well as a rich creaminess. If you're using almond milk instead, you could reverse this and add a handful of coconut instead!

And so this Christmas, I eschew mulled wine in favour of something less inflammatory and more soothing. On hot days, I drink with ice, and on cool, as an afternoon treat, served with coffee soaked dates (if you've never tried coffee soaked dates with some version of cream, vegan or otherwise, you have got to try them! Simply soak dates in espresso - even better if it's cardomon flavoured espresso - or oooh... cardomon cream....). And maybe I'll be a little tempted by mulled wine with cardamom too!

Whilst the ingredients in my chai may have changed, and my reasons to drink it, I still recall those days with beaten up saucepans and chipped mugs, the heady aromas of spices and the swirl of nag champa in the air mixing with the smoke of a wood fire.

Christmas Cardamom Chai

  • 1 Tbsp Cardamom
  • 1 Tbsp Cinnamon or one cinnamon stick (optional)
  • 1 tsp black pepper (this helps absorb the turmeric)
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 thick slice of ginger root
  • 3 almonds (optional)
  • 1 tsp ashwanghwa
  • 1 date
  • rose petals and/or calendula flowers

Add 1 cup of coconut milk and 1 cup of water to a saucepan and add whole spices. Very slowly and gently bring to a simmer for ten minutes, then turn off heat. Leave for ten minutes for spices to full infuse. Strain, then blend with one date and the almonds or your other choice of nut (you might like to soak them first - and you can skip them. I like to add for the extra creaminess and the protein) and return to the pan with rose petals and calendula flowers. Reheat, then strain into glasses or mugs. Cool and add ice cubes for an iced chai. You can skip the date if you'd rather not get out the blender - try honey or maple syrup instead. What I love about chai is that it can be quite creative and forgiving!

This post was written for the Natural Medicine challenge, where you can win up to 200 Steem for Christmas, plus LOTUS and HOBO tokens. You can write on any of the twelve herbs listed, or combine them with others as I have here. Don't forget it must be posted on and is due by Dec 24th. Have fun!

@naturalmedicine II Discord Invite II #naturalmedicine


Sounds like a drink that I'll have to try indeed

I approve of this plant-based posts.
Upvote 👍

What an awesome post!!! I am so inspired by the spices/xmas.

 4 years ago  

How's the Christmas vibe in Europe? Do you have Christmas with your family? xx

You would love it. I so wish you would visit. The xmas markets are super beautiful here. Gonna spend x-mas in berlin. My parents are sort of next door. Very close to them. None of us really follow any customs or traditions etc. but we enjoy the lights of the neighbors, the efforts, the time put in and also love the seasonal veggies, having hot teas with spices, kurkuma latte with black pepper of tea with calendula flowers. Natural medicine is so where i feel most home. I love lotus and wanna see it blooming! 😊 thank you for your awesome post. Everyone always Profoundly impacts and inspires me @riverflows!

 4 years ago  

Sounds delicious! I'm so bad sometimes about drinking and eating slowly. I'm always thankful for the reminder to do just that. The act of making and consuming such a beverage deserves reverence. I have a beverage to share, as well! Already burned some LOTUS, now just need to get that post written. 😜

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Same here. I still need to work on ( slowing down ) my speed and upping my focus when eating / drinking. It's a habit of over 35 years that isn't changed over night.

 4 years ago  

So true! Especially when cultural standards are to just shovel in your food when you can so you can keep on working. I'm lucky I get to eat from home a lot, but I still am usually hustling too much or trying to eat while I work on other things. Might take another 30+ years to work on it, haha.

Mmm I love chai tea. My really good friend in high school used to make it for us when I would come over and I was instantly a fan of it. I miss sitting there and having tea with him :( I should try to reconnect with him and hang out some time!

I want a 0 world wide vegan christmas

This sounds amazing ( although I myself would leave out the rose petals / flowers ).

Can you believe that I can't recall the taste of cardamom? It seems to be a recurring word though lately ( even more since I dove into Ayurveda ), so I need to take notice and try to get hold of it when I next go grocery shopping. I must admit that my chais or pimped up teas aren't that exciting yet so far, merely because I don't have a herb like cardamom. I didn't make it past the ginger, turmeric, cinnamon ( at times nutmeg ) pepper, coconut milk improv yet.

I hope you feel better soon, having such knowledge of cooking and plant life must make somewhat of a difference though. The only good thing about menopause is the second part... the pause itself.


 4 years ago  

Your chai improv sounds perfect! Wait til you add the cardamom! Xx

Cheers. I have a funny story to share about the chai I had this morning. Will try to turn it into a Nat Medicine Christmas Challenge post :>)

 4 years ago  

Awesome! Xxx Cant wait xx

Wow what sounds is so heavenly!! I'm going to try this chai recipe. I love caradamom too, what an exquisite spice indeed. I love the visions of you with the dented pans and chipped cups and nag champa. Glad you can use the herbs to help you through the transition. Soo good to support your body in that way. I love Ashwaganda too, such a great herb for just about everyone on this planet. Lots of love 💜🎄💫

 4 years ago  

Oh delicioso!
You were taking me far away and I could almost smell the spices steaming in the milk!
My husband use to make a wicked chai when he was courting me, now he makes a lovely hot chocolate with the wonderful cardamon!
I wasn't aware of all the benefits that came with this rather exotic spice - thanks for sharing!
I think I'll look for some ashwanghwa when I'm in the city for the holidays and try your Christmas Cardamom Chai recipe

 4 years ago  

There a million different ways to make Chai, and I love to see the way different people make it differently. I can say I've never used rose petals, creative!! A good chai must have pepper.

 4 years ago  

Pepper!!! Of course!!! Knew I had missed SOMETHING!

 4 years ago  

Your recipe has pepper, you didn't miss a thing. I meant to say that in my opinion a good chai must have some black pepper.