Jane Arie Baldwin

Personal Tools for Living at the Highest Levels of You

Tag: cold weather

Winter: The thinning of the veil



Originally posted November 12, 2009

As I sit here and look out over the river, the leaves, confetti-like in their enthusiasm to jump from the trees, fall to the ground to their final sleep. Like faithful followers drinking the poison punch, leaf after leaf falls with the turning of the wind. Soon the trees will stand naked, sleeping too, in a temporary sort of daze until the warm winds come again, next year.

Winter – the “thinning of the veil,” a time when nature perfects the concept of minimalism. In the winter there is nothing blatantly grabbing your attention with a myriad of colors and wings like the flowers and insects of the other months. In the winter you have to look for it, search it out. The stillness becomes much more magnified in the winter. It magnifies and stretches and yells and screams beyond our wildest imagination — if we can hear it. We can hear it. With the passing of every age the veil grows thinner.


My grandmother carried herself with passion, determination and an acidic bitterness for life that compares to meeting a rattlesnake face to face in the mid-day heat of a Texas August afternoon. As her memory slipped away she became more complacent, happier in her daily life,if only because she could no longer remember the travails of those who trespassed against her.

The veil had thinned. As she grew closer to the end of her life, memory or no memory, worldly importances faded and she delighted more in abstract joy without the need to magnify the darknesses she perceived around her. As the veil thinned she let more light into her life. Just as the leaves jump from the trees, thus allowing more light between the branches – thinning the veil, and thinning and thinning until it is no more.

How to Actually Make a Great Tasting Cup of Chai

Chai is the word for tea in many parts of the world and is almost always served with milk. Masala means spice mixture. So technically, chai tea latte means milky tea milk and the first (and last) time I ordered a milky tea milk from Starbucks that is exactly what I got – steamed milk with about ¼ cup of what tasted like sweet cinnamon water. The taste was less than inspiring and made me realize what I wanted the world to know — REAL CHAI MASALA DOES NOT TASTE LIKE THAT!


The oldest stories of masala chai (spiced tea) dates back thousands of years to Southeast Asia. According to ancient lore a king created it as a an Ayurvedic beverage for medicinal purposes to cleanse and restore the body. The British East India Company introduced black tea in India in 1834 and tea became part of the drink.

Chai produces a warming, soothing effect, acts a natural digestive aid. The spices are considered “Sattvic” or calming, vitalizing and mentally clarifying. Spices used very from region to region and each contains different vitamins and minerals that help improve circulation and immune function, increase mental clarity and enhance mood. A few are listed below:

Cinnamon – increases circulation and awareness, opens breathing, reduces fatigue.

Cardamom – Aids in digestion. Anti-inflamatory, shown to inhibit cancer growth, lower blood pressure Mood elevator with benefits to lungs, kidneys (detoxification) and heart (lowers blood pressure).

Clove – Pain relieving and antiseptic. Like pepper and ginger, clove is also used to increase potency of other  herbs.

Black Pepper – Supports circulation and metabolism. Can help alleviate chronic coldness.

Fennel – One of the worlds healthiest foods. Excellent source of many vitamins and minerals including Vitamin C and potassium. Was found in royal gardens in medieval times and used to treat kidney problems and also laryngitis.

Nutmeg – Calms anxiety, helps cholesterol and depression.

Star Anise – Helps with coldsores, septic shock and tooth decay.

A good cuppa chai should be sweet enough but not too sweet with well-blended spices that have a smooth, not bitter, flavor that opens in a burst of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, clove and fennel as it heads down your throat. You might even taste for a split second the pungency of black pepper or a tinge of nutmeg. Like dressing at Thanksgiving supper, everyone in India has their own opinions and recipes for what mixture of ingredients makes the best chai.

The recipe below has become a tried and true tradition in our house as the air thins and the cold weather comes. It’s so smooth and warming I’ve known hard core coffee drinkers to set down their cups and ask for chai masala at my table. Recently I knew my message was getting through when I heard one convert say, “Hey! This tastes nothing like the chai tea latte at Starbucks!”


Prepare the masala recipe first by grinding the spices together, then add other ingredients and boil. This is quite simple.

Masala Powder:

Grind these spices to a powder in a blender or coffee grinder and set aside.

2 cinnamon sticks

1 tsp ginger powder

3-4 cloves

4-5 cardamom pods

½ tsp fennel seeds

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 peppercorn

Other Ingredients:

1 ½ cups purified water

2 Tbsp black tea leaves or two tea bags

2 tsp – 1 Tbsp natural or raw sugar (or to taste)

1 cup milk

In a medium saucepan, boil water, tea leaves, ¾ tsp of the masala powder and sugar. Mix well and let heat to almost boiling.

Add your milk of choice. Bring to just boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer a few minutes. Strain and serve hot. Add more sweetener if needed.

Additional Notes:

Milk: Any milk, dairy or non-dairy may be used.

Tea: Try with a tea of your choice like green tea, a rooibos, or tulsi basil.

Masala Powder: store extra masala powder in airtight jar and refrigerate.

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