Chai: Health Benefits, Preparation and Masala Chai Recipe

Chai - Tea

Authentic Masala CHAI Tea Recipe! Includes all of the amazing health benefits of each of the ingredients!
Authentic Masala CHAI Tea Recipe! Includes all of the amazing health benefits of each of the ingredients! | Source
A cup of chai.
A cup of chai. | Source

What is chai?

Chai is pronounced ch - eye.

The word chai means tea.

Chai comes from the Persian form - chay. This is a derivative of the Mandarin Chinese form - chá.

Chai is also known as, masala chai. Masala chai translates to mixed black tea. When we say chai in the United States, we are usually referring to masala chai. Otherwise, we simply say tea.

What is masala chai? This variation of chai is a fragrant, spiced black tea that originated in India. Traditionally, masala chai is a rich blend of black tea, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom, cloves and star anise. It has a relaxing and smooth flavor that is easy on the palate. Chai sweetly awakens the senses with its rich aroma.

Common ingredients in masala tea

Black Pepper or Peppercorns are a common ingredient in masala chai
Black Pepper or Peppercorns are a common ingredient in masala chai | Source
Ginger blends in nicely when preparing masala chai
Ginger blends in nicely when preparing masala chai | Source
Cinnamon and star anise make up the spices in the masala variation of chai
Cinnamon and star anise make up the spices in the masala variation of chai | Source
Black and green cardamon
Black and green cardamon | Source
cloves blends nicely with the masala spices and adds a perfectly pungent flavor. The aroma is undeniable.
cloves blends nicely with the masala spices and adds a perfectly pungent flavor. The aroma is undeniable.
Black Tea Leaves are the primary ingredient in masala chai
Black Tea Leaves are the primary ingredient in masala chai
A vendor in India offering freshly prepared chai.
A vendor in India offering freshly prepared chai. | Source

Where is Chai From?

Chai is commonly found in India. Although chai originated in India its creation was due to the promotion of black tea by the British-owned Indian Tea Company sometime around the 1830's. The English promoted its consumption and preparation with milk and sugar. Eventually chai recipes evolved and included the various aromatic spices used today.

Chai is now commercially available and can be prepared by steeping a teabag. However, homemade chai is prepared in its raw form, strained and served.

show route and directions
A markerIndia -
India
[get directions]

Chai originated in India.

B markerBritain -
United Kingdom
[get directions]

The British owned the Indian Tea Company. It is believed the British introduced milk and sugar to black tea, which later evolved into masala chai.

C markerUnited States -
United States
[get directions]

The chai served in the United States is a variation of masala chai.

Is Masala Chai Good for You? Yes!

A Description of Chai: What are the Benefits and Ingredients of Chai?

Masala chai's multiple ingredients evoke its various benefits, color and flavor.

What does masala chai taste like?

Flavor - The closest flavor I can compare chai to would be creamy mulled cider without the apple flavor. The flavor is not extremely strong, but it is definitely rich. The undertones of cinnamon, anise and cloves blend nicely with the black tea, ginger and other flavors. Neither of the flavors overpower the other; instead, they compliment each other beautifully. Also, masala chai does not have the telltale leafy after taste of other teas.

What does chai look like?

Color - Prepared chai looks very similar to coffee with cream.

What are the benefits of chai tea?

The various ingredients of chai are beneficial in their own right. Here are just a few of the multiple health benefits of these ingredients.

Black Tea:

  • Reduces risk of heart disease
  • Effective antioxidant
  • Improves recovery after strenuous exercise
  • Reduces inflammation after exercise

Ginger:

  • Improves upset stomach
  • May reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease

Cinnamon:

  • May reduce blood sugar, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Rids the bacteria that causes bad breath

Black Pepper (peppercorns):

  • Improves absorption of vitamins
  • Contains potassium, zinc, manganese and iron

Cardamom:

  • Stimulates the digestive system
  • Eases stomach cramps
  • Encourages detoxification

Cloves:

  • Natural analgesic
  • Soothes the respiratory system

Star Anise:

  • Improves digestion
  • Antimicrobial qualities
  • Relieves congestion


Random fact - Did you know that the influenza drug Tamiflu contains star anise?

Source

HubPages Author, Rajan Jolly shares how chai is a part of his Indian culture.

Rajan, when do you drink chai?

Chai is a daily affair in Indian households, almost amounting to a ritual.
The day starts off with a cup of hot chai. Some people prefer to take it before getting up from the bed and want their BED TEA before they do anything. Whether one takes bed tea or not, chai is the first morning drink in an Indian household. After this morning chai is done with, one gets on with the household work or gets ready for going to work. Either way, a cup of chai is again taken when it's time for breakfast.
In offices, those having shops (stores), workers on the job in factories or elsewhere, even those working in government offices and the like, it is a customary practice to drink chai once at around 11 AM and then at about 3.30 PM. Those who are at home, whether they are working or not, have made it a practice of having chai once at about 11 AM and then after their work or afternoon siesta at around 5 PM. Back home from work or otherwise a hot cup of chai is again enjoyed at about 7 PM.

How many cups of chai do you have daily?

On an average, a person consumes about five cups of Chai daily at the minimum.

During the day if one has guests, its time for tea again or if one is visiting friends, one is offered tea.

Do you enjoy any pastries or biscuits with your chai?

Tea at home is normally had with some biscuits. In offices, tea is a standalone affair. While having guests or visiting, along with tea we add a few other snacks like biscuits, sponge cakes, potato patties, parkoa, etc. are offered.

How do you normally prepare chai?

Some people prefer to use tea bags instead by dropping a tea bag or two in a hot cup of water, let it stand for a few minutes before adding sugar and milk. If they so prefer, they make do with black chai prepared this way.

However, chai made and drunk this way is only by a handful of people while the majority go for chai prepared in the way described a little late, below.

Chai is made at roadside tea stalls/vendors and in restaurants all over India. Passers-by, nearby offices, shops and other establishments are their regular customers.

Though everyone has his own way of preparing chai, it is most commonly made in the way given below, especially all over Mumbai. In Mumbai, there is a practice of drinking Cut Chai, which is nothing but tea made the usual way but filled just half in a glass . Since it is not a full glass, it is called cut chai.

Thank you for your contributions Rajan.

As a special treat, Rajan has shared his masala chai recipe below as well as a few variations.

Rajan's Variations for Chai

For Adrak chai, replace the masala mixture with a 1/2" piece of crushed Ginger(Adrak).

For Tulsi chai, replace the masala mixture with Tulsi (Holy basil) about 6-7 finely cut leaves.

Add a pinch of crushed cardamom in both cases above.

Rajan's Recipe for North Indian Masala Chai


Ingredients

2 cloves
2 green cardamoms
3 black peppercorns
1/2" cinnanmon stick
2 cups water
1 tsp tea leaves
1/2 cup milk

How to make chai

Method

Crush the cloves, cardamoms, peppercorns and cinnamon stick coarsely. This constitutes the masala (spice) mixture.
In a pan add 2 cups of water and this masala mixture.Bring to a boil.
Add sugar and tea leaves. Simmer till the water gets a good deep color.
Add milk and bring to another boil. Simmer till tea feels a bit thick and throws off a good aroma (usually a couple of minutes).
Strain. Serve hot.

A Simple and Modern Chai Recipe


Ingredients

  • 1 teabag of Tazo organic chai
  • milk or creamer
  • sweetener

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil

Steep chai teabag in water for 3 - 5 minutes

Remove teabag

Add a splash of milk (about 1 tbsp)

Add sweetener to taste (I use one packet of splenda)

Sit back and enjoy the aroma and the flavor.

My favorite commercialized chai is by Tazo. It is organic. I add a splash of milk and splenda - pure bliss! Tazo's Organic Chai is very similar to the flavor and ingredients found in traditional masala chai.
My favorite commercialized chai is by Tazo. It is organic. I add a splash of milk and splenda - pure bliss! Tazo's Organic Chai is very similar to the flavor and ingredients found in traditional masala chai. | Source

Ingredients - Tazo's organic chai contains black tea, ginger, black pepper, cardamon, cloves, cinnamon bark and star anise.

References and Clinical Studies

Health Benefits of Chai Ingredients


BLACK TEA

Black Tea and Heart Disease - "black and green tea improve the risk factors for heart disease by both hypolipemic and antioxidant mechanisms and possibly a fibrinolytic effect"
Black tea is an effective antioxidant - "Theaflavins in Black Tea and Catechins in Green Tea Are Equally Effective Antioxidants"
Improves anaerobic recovery and reduces inflammation - "The effects of theaflavin-enriched black tea extract on muscle soreness, oxidative stress, inflammation, and endocrine responses to acute anaerobic interval training: a randomized, double-blind, crossover study"

GINGER

Inhibits tumor growth in prostate cancer - Benefits of whole ginger extract in prostate cancer

CARDAMON

Positive antioxidant effects in the reduction of skin cancer - Antioxidative effects of the spice cardamom against non-melanoma skin cancer by modulating nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 and NF-κB signaling pathways

CINNAMON

Has anesthetic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, and antiviral actions - Molecular targets and health benefits of cinnamon

BLACK PEPPER

Promotes a healthy nervous system and is also known to contain anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties - There is suggestive evidence that black pepper piperine may have nervous system benefits and may influence body energy usage in rats. Preliminary evidence in cell culture studies suggests that black pepper contains antioxidant constituents and possesses anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties

My heartfelt appreciation goes out to Rajan Jolly.

Thank you Rajan, for sharing a bit of your culture with us. Chai is certainly a big part of your daily life at home, socially and in the work place. My sincerest gratitude for bringing authentic cultural awareness to this hub. Also, I'm honored to share your chai recipes with our readers. You are a treasure of knowledge and a valued friend on HubPages.

With respect and gratitude, Marisa

Have you tried matcha?

Health Benefits of Matcha - Powdered Green Tea

© 2012 Marisa Hammond Olivares

More by this Author


Comments 63 comments

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

I'm sooo bookmarking this!! I LOVE chai and I always wanted to know how to make it myself. YES!! Thanks, missolive. YUM!! I'm going to make my own chai! Can you see me dancing around?!? :D

Votes and more!!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

That's great! I love the team work involved and the hub! It is fabulous and beautiful!

That's so cool how you wrote about the look and benefits. I really am always impressed with your work...it's professional, informative, organized and pretty:). Up and everything!


Cassandra Goduti profile image

Cassandra Goduti 4 years ago from Guilford, Connecticut

I love chai tea. it is refreshing. As refreshing as this article.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I've never had chai but it is now going on my list of things to try.

Very informative hub with so much great information!


rahul0324 profile image

rahul0324 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

A very informative hub on a drink we Indians are addicted to.

Chai with its benefits as you have mentioned above can be a very healthy inclusion in our diet regimes.

However having excess of Masala Chai hampers digestion and having it empty stomach should be avoided!

Great hub BTW....

Voted up and shared!


iamaudraleigh 4 years ago

Micah is a tea fanatic! I will totally share this with him! Great collaboration in creating this hub...well done!!


Ms Zilla profile image

Ms Zilla 4 years ago from New England

Love love love chai! Voted up, thanks so much!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Chai tea is one of my favorite drinks. I love the taste and it is so calming. Your hub is well written and I love the way you have added on another hubber's comments and ideas. Thanks for the information on this delightful tea.


Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

I love chai and what better tribute than sipping a cup of chai and reading this beautiful and informative hub, missolive :)

voted up indeed and sharing it across!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Excellent hub Marisa. I just learned that masala tea is known as chai in the United States. You have drawn out the history of tea and the various health benefits of the ingredients extremely well.

I am honored to have been given the opportunity to share a bit of our tea culture and the way tea/chai is made in my part of the world.

Thank you so much and I appreciate the inclusion of my hub links. You are a treasured friend.


sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri

I am with Ruchira and several others! I love chai tea, and love it even more after reading the benefits that come from drinking it. I must confess, though. I have only used the tea bags.

Rajan's interview is a perfect fit to this hub. Interesting, informative, and a great read! Votes and shares! :-)


lifelovemystery profile image

lifelovemystery 4 years ago from Houston, TX

I love Chai Tea and recently found a blended mix in a local coffee shop. It's great with milk!


kelleyward 4 years ago

I enjoyed reading this great hub. I especially liked how you added the background, benefits of, and then the interview with Rajan. Voted up. Take care, Kelley


harmony155 profile image

harmony155 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

You must try the hot chai at Starbucks!


Anamika S profile image

Anamika S 4 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

I love Chai too! But I only take one Cup in a Day along with my maid after having Breakfast, which is around 10 in the morning. For me, Ginger and Cardamom are essential ingredients in the Tea. Hub Voted up!


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

I love tea very much. But I had never know about Chai tea. Nice information and I hope I can find this tea on the local market. I learn many things about this tea from this hub. Thanks for writing and share with us. Good job, my friend. Voted up and useful!

Prasetio


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

I love these informational hubs of yours Miss Olive. When I go to pin them, they always end up under my "Healthy Options" board which is so cool. Great addition pulling in Rajan's interview giving us fascinating information about the Indian culture. I really need to try tea as a healthier alternative to my beverage choices.

Sharyn


Vellur profile image

Vellur 4 years ago from Dubai

I love chai,and drink it twice a day. It refreshes me. Great hub on chai. Voted up.


missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

I am thrilled for all of these wonderful comments. I see I am not alone in enjoying chai and its benefits. Continued gratitude goes out to Rajan for his participation in this hub. For those that have not tried chai (masala chai) I encourage you to give it a try.

Thank you for reading and commenting.

I raise my cup of chai - CHEERS! :)


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Well done! I am a huge fan of the Tazo Chai tea. I drank it almost every day for the better part of 5 years. It's good to know that it's very close to the authentic traditional recipe.


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Marisa, I very much enjoyed this hub. The interview with Rajan was of immense value! I am looking forward to trying his recipe. I love Chai tea as do my three boys!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 years ago from The Caribbean

Interesting, original, enjoyable. Thanks missolive for this detailed article on chai. The interview adds authenticity. Great job!


Robin profile image

Robin 4 years ago from San Francisco

Wow, Marisa! That is the most informative Hub on Chai I have ever read! What a cool idea to interview Rajan Jolly! I learned so much!


theclevercat profile image

theclevercat 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Oh YUM! Real chai is nothing like the muck they serve at Dunkin' Donuts. Excellent article -- voted up and awesome, and pinned. Thanks!


KrisL profile image

KrisL 4 years ago from S. Florida

Great hub!

For those outside India who have access to an Indian grociery store I recommend trying an Indian chai teabag or powdered "tea spice."

You add the tea spice to plain black tea bag to a cup of tea before adding the boiling water, or for an even better taste, boil in a pot with water and loose-leaf tea (start with about 1/4 teaspoon, and see if you want more.)

Most American chai mixes are heavy on cinnamon and lack black pepper, which seems to be an acquired taste for us Americans :-).

That said, I agee with Miss Olive that Tazo makes the best masala chai tea bag you can find easily in the USA.


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago

I have had Chai before in South Africa and is was very tasty too. Some great ideas here Marisa.

Nice input from Rajan too.

In the UK the term has been Anglicized to Cha. Pronounced with the same intonation and inflection as 'car'.

Would you like a cup of cha?

Must give these recipes a try.


sandrabusby profile image

sandrabusby 4 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

What a lovely hub! The image with the cup and the tea in it. Beautiful. And, of course, Rajan always adds his special knowledge. Thanks for SHARING.


Shawn May Scott profile image

Shawn May Scott 4 years ago

I love Chai. The variety you have pictured is my favorite bagged blend. I am going to try the recipe as it sounds fantastic!!! Thanks for the share. Voted up and awesome.


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I have never tasted chai, but with this Hub I am about to. I enjoy all hot beverages, so I am looking forward to trying this one!


formosangirl profile image

formosangirl 4 years ago from Los Angeles

I love Chai and drink it frequently. I enjoyed this hub. Voted Up.


Wesley Meacham profile image

Wesley Meacham 4 years ago from Wuhan, China

I love tea as well. There are different varieties of tea that I've recently become acquainted with. Great hub. I learned a lot from this not just from the content but from the lay out as well.


Linda Bliss profile image

Linda Bliss 4 years ago from San Francisco

Chai is my favourite type of tea but I never knew about the health benefits! Voted up and shared. :-)


Global-Chica profile image

Global-Chica 4 years ago from New York, NY

I learned so much about chai from your article and loved the interview from Rajan. I'm going to go and try making the simple chai using your recipe!


missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

Hi everyone! Thanks so much for all of your great comments and contributions. I'm glad to see so many of you have enjoyed this hub and enjoy chai as well.

I did want to point out a few comments...

Rajan Jolly, your interview has certainly been a hit...thanks again. :)

KrisL, thanks for the tip on the 'tea spice'. I'll have to see if I can locate it.

Molometer, I've always been fascinated by linguistics and regional culture. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks again to all of you that have taken the time to read, comment and share. It is greatly appreciated. Enjoy your day and Happy Hubbing!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Thanks to everyone who appreciated your effort and you too Marisa, for giving me this opportunity to share a bit of Indian culture. I am overwhelmed by the love and appreciation.


urmilashukla23 profile image

urmilashukla23 4 years ago from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA

I love masala chai and make it at home. Great hub. Voted up!


ronhi profile image

ronhi 4 years ago from Kenya

I am a swahili speaker and chai is the general term we use for tea. Thanks for the hub


articleshub profile image

articleshub 4 years ago from Hyderabad, India.

Excellent article missolive. Voted up!


missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

rajan jolly, thank you for stopping by again. I'm honored to share your knowledge and experience

urmilashukla23, I'm glad you enjoy it as well - cheers! Thanks for the votes :)

ronhi, very interesting that the term chai is used the same way. Thank you for sharing.

articleshub, thank you! I appreciate it.


traslochimilano profile image

traslochimilano 4 years ago from USA

Every morning start with tea...


missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

traslochimliano, what a beautiful way to start the day...thank you


tsmog profile image

tsmog 4 years ago from Escondido, CA

Awesome article missolive. I think I will switch to Chi, I mean Chai, got my energy stuff mixed with herbal, or are they one in the same, dun'no. . .I have a year supply of green tea to consume and maybe I have just discovered a way to turn regular to premium . . .bookmarked for researching long range goals with supply & demand very soon. I'm in theta so a bit cryptic, forgive me please and the purpose for reading was, well simply say 'hello!'

Tim


Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida

Love that spiced tea. I skip the milk and sugar and just drink it straight. Good article with lots of info. Liked the section on how to make your own spices to add in.


missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

tsmog, Hi Tim!, I'm so happy you came by to read and comment. I hope chai gets your chi where you need it to be! Green tea is another fav of mine - matcha actually. It sounds like you are set for a daily spot of tea - maybe two. Glad to see you and hello! :)

Angelo52, I'm going to have to try it without milk and sugar - masala chai has just enough spice that it may not need it. Thanks for reading.


celebritie profile image

celebritie 4 years ago

I usually order this kind of tea when I go to Starbucks because it tastes really good with the cinnamon in it.


missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

isn't it great? I love chai - especially masala chai. Thank you for stopping by to read and comment.


ashish04joshi profile image

ashish04joshi 4 years ago from India

Great...I've bookmarked this one for the recipe. I love Ginger Chai. In fact I might be even addicted to it.

Awesome hub about our own Indian 'Chai'...

Thanks for sharing this with us all.


missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

ashish04joshi, Hi there, Ginger Chai sounds absolutely soothing. I'm glad you like the recipes(s) presented here. I couldn't have done this without Rajan's contribution. It was a pleasure seeing you have stopped by to read. Thank you.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

I started drinking chai tea at Starbucks. they make it over ice!


missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

Austinstar, I bet iced chai is perfect during the summer months. The ginger is sooooo soothing.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

It is the tastiest tea I've ever drunk, that's for sure. I love the cinnamony flavor and the cardamom.


Deborah Brooks profile image

Deborah Brooks 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

I found this hub.. and I love organic teas.. and it is wonderful.. thank you Miss Olive..


missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

Austinstar, isn't it great? I especially enjoy it during the Fall season. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Deborah Brooks, Thank you Debbie. Organic teas are so good. It is nice to get back to the basics with organic teas. Glad to see you.


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

Just came back to say that I still haven't made this by hand, but I really, really want to. I have a serious - I mean serious - chai craving just now. :)


missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

cc, I bet you would make a rockin' masala chai. Nice to see you again.


Joseph Muendo profile image

Joseph Muendo 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

Nice hub very informative about Indian tea will try it and get back to you


missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

Joseph Muendo, thank you very much, I do hope you enjoy it. It is perfect during this season.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I finally tried Chai-tea 2 weeks ago and loved it. It's now my favorite tea.


missolive profile image

missolive 3 years ago from Texas Author

Just Ask Susan, I'm glad you tried it and liked it, this is my favorite time of year to drink it. The aroma is amazing.


Jameel Miles 17 months ago

Great article!

I have that "make it from scratch" thing going. I will grind my spices and make this delicious tea the long way.

Thanks for the knowledge.


nancy kangende 16 months ago

I started taking chai 6mths ago!! Its awesome. ........loving it.


missolive profile image

missolive 16 months ago from Texas Author

Jameel Miles, making recipes from scratch is wonderful. Enjoy your chai. Cheers!

Nancy Kangende, I'm glad to hear you enjoy chai too.


raguett profile image

raguett 11 months ago

this is a wonderful hub thank you for sharing i am a long time tea drinker and today i learned some new things...guess it time for a tea break thanks

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