Ayurveda and Chai Marketing
The human body doesn’t come with an instruction manual, so humans decided to create systems and processes to study and understand how the human body works, how to cure it, and how to keep it running at its optimum.
Every early human civilisation had their own understandings of medicine - the Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Egyptians, Indigenous Australians... essentially anywhere you’d find civilisation, you’d find medical practice and methodology. Early Indian civilisation called their study and practice of medicine, Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is the "science of long life", and yes, it is an old practice. Having been in the developmental stage since the Stone Age and passed down orally, written evidence of Ayurveda can be traced back to several medical texts, of which the Charaka (composed in the 1st century CE) and Sushruta (composed in the 7th century) are the most famous. Written during a period of political reform (in between the end of the Mauryan Empire and the rise of the Guptas) these form part of a series of texts referred to as the Shashtras, and the objective of the Shashras was to bring order to various realms of society.
So what does Ayurveda actually involve?
In a nutshell (and this is indeed a very simplified explanation) Ayurveda is centred on the concept that human beings are composed of Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth, and based on this, there are three Doshas, which essentially classify the effects of combinations of these elements: Vata—a combination of ether and air, Pitta—a combination of fire and water, and Kapha—a combination of water and earth.
The objective of Ayurveda is balance. Good health is achieved when these 3 Doshas (as well as the digestive fire, the three waste products, the seven bodily tissues, and the mind) are balanced, and health disorders are characterised by imbalances. In order to remedy these imbalances, Ayurvedic practitioners use a range of techniques like herbal medicines, massage, yoga, and 5 cleansing practices including blood-letting and vomit-inducing.
Ayurveda is classifed as an "alternative medicine", as opposed to what is known as western medicine.
The Scientific Method
When we say western medicine (or conventional medicine) we are referring to medical practice that is based on the scientific method developed in ancient Greece. It's not about particular herbs and techniques. Rather, it is the act of observation, rigorous testing through clinical trials, and systematic research reviews that characterises western medicine. It is through the scientific method that the effectiveness of herbs, techniques etc. are assessed before being administered as cures and remedies.
Cures based on traditional "eastern" medical practices of Ayurveda (among others) can absolutely coexist with western medicine, and this is achieved through the Scientific Method. Many herbs and spices commonly used in Ayurveda have been incorporated into western medicine through this process.
Ayurveda and Marketing
As a popular marketing buzzword for the better-for-you category, the term "Ayurveda" is bandied about quite a bit, mostly by people who aren't actually Ayurvedic practitioners. We get it. Doshas sound so much sexier than phenylpropanoids.
The bottom-line is that the spices in Chai may be very healthy for you and can help stave off some illnesses. We know this for a fact because these spices have been assessed under the Scientific Method and there is concrete evidence of their efficacy.
To those Chai companies touting the Ayurvedic benefits of Chai simply for the sake of marketing and not because Ayurveda truly is the reason they formulated their product, we have this to say:
Ayurveda practitioners spend years studying and perfecting their practice. Attributing properties in your Chai to Ayurvedic concepts, when you are not actually a trained practitioner could potentially be harmful. It is reductive. And using another’s culture for the sake of marketing/profit is Cultural Appropriation.
There are numerous spices that have been scientifically proven to impart specific health benefits. When there is a wealth of scientific data like this, it makes no sense to disseminate information relating to people’s health that is based on alternative medicine. It is irresponsible, harmful, and reductive.
Just use data from scientific journals. It's not that hard.
If, as a consumer, you are well-versed in Ayurveda or are aware of the spices that can aid or harm your body according to this philosophy, you will find the ingredients of our Chai Blends listed on their product page. Please rely on your own judgement or the expertise of a trained practitioner for advice.