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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chai Tea ~ it tastes so great and is good for you!

One sip of Chai tea and I was hooked.

Chai Tea blend....looks delicious doesn't it!

What is Chai tea made from?
Traditional chai tea is made from a base of black tea mixed with spices like pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and cloves.

The use of honey instead of sugar in this spiced tea can also be a good nutritional choice. Honey has antioxidants, can ease sore throats, and can fight bacterial infection in some cases.

Health benefits of Chai tea

The fact is - every ingredient in Chai tea is good for you. Put them all together they pack a powerful punch for your immune system.

The spices in Chai Tea have various health benefits, and have been used for thousands of years. There is a growing body of evidence showing that the tea in Chai has numerous health benefits. Tea polyphenols have been linked in research to increased attention and focus (Theanine), cardiovascular health, protection against Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and even may have the potential to alter cancer genetics.

For centuries various spices in Chai have been used in traditional Asian medicine. High value is placed in both Ayurveda and Chinese Traditional Medicine on spices in the treatment of a range of conditions. 

Black tea, the base ingredient in Chai tea, contains antioxidants which can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Antioxidants are also believed to beneficial to heart health, and some researchers suggest that they may help prevent cancer as well.

Ginger helps to ease sore throats, along with cold and flu symptoms, and it can also calm an upset stomach. 

Cloves have traditionally been used as an invigorating spice, and they may promote circulation as well. 

Cinnamon is a common stimulant. 

Cardamom eases indigestion and helps to calm. 

Pepper also promotes healthy digestion.

For people who experience indigestion after Indian food, a cup of chai might be a great help.

Chai is mentally clarifying and energizing yet calming at the same time. Giving a  great "pick me up" without nervousness or jitters.

Morning Tea Invitation

Why making your own Chai blend is better

Many spice shops sell blends of Chai tea or sell the ingredients separately for you to make up your own blend. Experiment with different proportions of spice to get the taste that you are after.

The combination of spices in the tea can promote general health and ease specific complaints, and people who make their own Chai tea can control the ingredients for the best health effect.

Rather than mixing it fresh on a daily basis, coffee shops tend to order Chai mix in large batches leaving the spices not as potent.

My favourite spice shop where I buy my Chai blend

Cane sugar, honey and citric acid are three of the primary ingredients in the syrupy concentrate that is used to make the Chai tea lattes, with a whopping 220-300 calories per drink.  You can see why making your own blend is much better for you!

The beginnings of Chai tea, it's popularity

Chai is the Indian word for "tea".

In India "Chai" simply means tea. In the Western world it refers specifically to spiced Indian-style tea. That is, tea with traditional Indian spices and milk. Referred to also as Masala Chai, which is more popular in India than coffee.

The popularity of Chai tea is spreading rapidly through the rest of the world, taking on some changes. In some countries, a sweeter, creamier variation known as a "Chai latte" is often served as Chai. Processed Chai drinks like Chai lattes may not be as beneficial as traditional Chai tea. Often containing minimal Chai and very high amounts of white sugar.

How much caffeine is in Chai, and comparing it to coffee?

A cup of Chai tea contains approximately 40mg of caffeine (4 oz of black tea) compared to roughly 120mg in a cup of coffee. However, the caffeine in tea seems to work differently. Due to the interaction of tannin, which is a component of tea. It has a calming effect on the nervous system. Causing the caffeine to be absorbed much more slowly, avoiding a caffeine "shock" giving a calm, relaxed yet focused state characteristic of alpha brain wave patterns.

Without the caffeine "shock" of coffee, you can enjoy a few extra cups. Even having it in the evening without disturbing sleep.


Serves: 5 cups

Caffeine free, so kids can drink it too.

Ingredients and method
4 cups water - Boiled
Bring to simmer and add all the ingredients.

10 whole cloves
12 whole cardamom pods
12 whole black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks
4 slices fresh ginger (chopped root)
1 cup light coconut milk, rice milk or almond milk
1 tablespoons raw honey or 1 teaspoon *stevia
The longer it sits, eg 30 minutes, the better it tastes. 

*Stevia is a natural sweetener substitute for sugar and is popular with diabetics

Masala Chai Tea

(serves 4)

  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 packets of black tea 
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 2 cardamon pods
  • 1/4 tsp dried ginger
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp honey - or to your liking
1. In a mortar, crush the cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon
2. Add mixture to a saucepan with water, ginger, and pepper, bring to boil
3. Remove pan from heat, cover, let steep for 5 minutes
4. Add milk and honey to pan, bring to boil
5. Remove saucepan from heat and add black tea. Cover, let steep for 3 minutes
6. Stir Chai, strain into a warmed teapot or directly into teacups

You can add a twist to these recipes by adding some orange peel, nutmeg, star anise or trying different teas leaves.

There are many recipes on the internet, just do a search for "Chai tea recipes" or "creamy Chai tea recipes".

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