Mid-winter celebrations are imbued with magic and merry-making, as well as tension, exhaustion, and stress. Honoring traditions (or not), and being with family (or not), are all loaded with emotional mass. Last year, I experienced ups and downs, but I had reserves of kindness and patience that I couldn’t find in holidays past. I was one year older and wiser, but I’d bet that most of the credit belongs to this divine beverage: Rose Tulsi Chai Hot Chocolate.

A tea of rose petals can open the heart. If there’s a tightness in your chest, or you’re brought to tears easily, you can take comfort with rose. Rose imparts the courage to give and receive the love you need. It whispers, “I’ve got you, you’ve got this.” Rose isn’t all sweetness and light, though. While you may be drawn in by her great beauty and intoxicating scent, you will be reminded that she wears an armor of blood-drawing thorns. Plants with thorns teach us where our healthy boundaries are and how to stick to them. Rose will not be easily trampled underfoot. This firmness of being is the perfect character trait to pair with a wide-open loving heart, and embodying these two truths at once is the lesson of rose.

Tulsi, or Holy Basil, is a pleasantly aromatic gift from the mint family. Its great strength is improving the body’s ability to handle stress. When it comes to nervous system discomforts, Tulsi softens rough edges. It brings calmness to the spirit without dulling the senses. In fact, its effects are stimulating, enlivening, and facilitate clarity of thought. Renowned Clinical Herbalist Rosalee de la Foret notes, “[Holy Basil] can also promote energy and endurance. One way it does this is by increasing the body’s ability to efficiently use oxygen.”  It strengthens immune and digestive functions, and makes a very tasty tea.

Another key ingredient is beloved cacao. If you’re already in love with chocolate, then I don’t need to explain why it’s included in this emotionally fortifying brew. Though you’ve likely been employing its mood-improving effects since childhood, you may not know that it contains Anandamide, or “the bliss molecule.” The Sanskrit word “ananda” means “extreme happiness, one of the highest states of being.” Chocolate is also considered a good dietary source of magnesium, calcium, iron, and vitamin B12. I like to add chai spices to my cocoa powder, because they warm up the body in these chilly winter months.

So the next time your mother-in-law is being critical, you can take it in stride and look forward to your next mug of hot chocolate.

ROSE TULSI TEA

INGREDIENTS

One small handful dried rose petals

One small handful dried Tulsi (also known as Holy Basil)

One quart jar boiling water

METHOD

Combine the loose herbs in the quart jar, top the jar off with boiling water, and cover it with a lid. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, and up to 12 hours. Strain and discard the herbs, and store the tea in the refrigerator to be used as needed.

CHAI COCOA POWDER

INGREDIENTS

First, mix chai spice:

½ tablespoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon ground cardamom

1 tablespoon ground clove

½ tablespoon ground nutmeg

Combine with cocoa:

4 parts cocoa powder

1 part chai spice

ROSE TULSI CHAI HOT CHOCOLATE

Pour enough Rose Tulsi tea to almost fill a mug into a small pot on the stove, on medium heat. Add a dollop of cream or coconut milk. Add a heaping tablespoon of chai cocoa powder. Sweeten to taste however you like: sugar, stevia, honey, maple syrup, and herbal syrups are all good options. Whisk until the brew is steaming. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy!