- Food and Cooking
Why Chai? Why Not! The Benefits of Drinking Chai
The Pi of Chai
Chai (sounds like pie) and is a delightful blend of tea, herbs and spices. Chai originates in India and the version most people are familiar with when they ask for "chai tea" is actually known as masala (spices) chai. There are many variations but it usually involves brewing a strong loose black tea often grown in Assam India and includes combinations of delicious spices such as cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, saffron, rose, fennel, peppercorn, clove, star anise and even black pepper can be added to experience the benefits of drinking Chai.
Note to tea drinkers when ordering out, do not ask for "Chai Tea" as this is like asking for tea tea. Chai is tea. Starbucks has us Americans looking foolish when we order Chai Tea from their order boards. Ask anyone of your Indian friends and they will set you straight.
Teabags vs Loose Leaf Tea
Teabags often contain bits of tea leaves and other what-nots are often added. Also it is essential when brewing tea to give the leaves enough room to expand so that their flavor is properly extracted. Teabags are condensed and can't expand enough. When in a pinch use a pyramid style tea bag or you can use a coffee filter with loose leaf tea.
Healthy Authentic Chai Recipe
The perfect way to relax, bring balance to your hectic life and be proactive in your health is to make this homemade Chai. Here's our recipe for authentic Chai (2 servings):
- 4 cardamom pods, slightly crushed (3/4 tsp dried)
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped fine or crushed
- 4 cloves, whole (1/2 tsp dried)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or a fresh cinnamon stick)
- 4 tsp loose black tea (quality tea bags will work)
- 4 tsp raw honey
- ¼ cup organic milk
1. Add 4 cups of cold water to a medium saucepan
2. Add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and ginger
3. Bring to a low boil and then reduce to low heat
4. Add tea and stir in raw honey and milk
5. Simmer for 5 min, remove from heat and let steep for 5 min
6. Serve with a ladle, sip and smile!
Note: You may also use a strainer to keep from having the spice pieces end up in your tea. The should be settled to the bottom of the saucepan but you can strain if you prefer.
Rate this delicious chai recipe
Making Your Own Healthy Chai
Brewing Tea the Right Way
And when you are brewing it, do not fuss with your teabag in any manor. Place it in the cup or teapot and leave it. Never squeeze, dip, stir and never, ever wring it. Committing these errors releases excessive tannins in the tea and will make it bitter.
Overall Health Benefits from Chai
Chai: Good for your health
1. Reduces Cancer Risk
Drinking Chai on a regular basis may actually reduce your cancer risk. The spices used in Chai such as cardamom, clove, cinnamon and ginger contain lots of good antioxidants and phytochemicals with cancer-prevention properties.
2. Protects against Cold and Flu
These antioxidants and phytochemicals are also great at supporting the immune system. Add extra ginger to your Chai since it is especially great at building up good digestion.
3. Reduce Inflammation and Pain
Chai spices such as cinnamon and clove have been shown to fight against inflammation and alleviate pain.
4. Regulate Blood-Sugar Levels
Chai spices have also been shown to assist in regulating blood-sugar levels and help you to feel full and satisfied, which can help reduce sugar cravings.
5. Calming Gastrointestinal Issues
All the spices found in Chai tend to assist and regulate the digestive system. It is especially helpful in preventing gas, bloating and upset stomachs.
6. Provides Energy Boost and Well-being
Although the caffeine content is only about 1/4th of that found in a cup of coffee, Chai does contain caffeine and other natural stimulants. Chai offers an energy boost and sense of well-being without the caffeine jitters.
Recommended dose is to enjoy two cups of Chai per day to receive all these great health benefits.
The Healthy Benefits of Drinking Chai
The ingredients in Chai are good for you including:
Black tea and Heart Disease - According to a chemist in Scranton, PA by the name of Joe Vinden "black and green tea improve the risk factors for heart disease."
Black tea is also a very effective antioxidant because of the theaflavins and catechins. Black tea is said to impprove anaerobic recovery and reduce inflammation. According to this study: "The effects of theaflavin-enriched black tea extract on muscle soreness, oxidative stress, inflammation, and endocrine responses to acute training were impressive."
Typical Spices in Chai
According to Ancient Indian philosophy, the spices typically found in Chai are considered to be "sattvic" or calming, vitalizing and mentally clarifying. This is what makes Chai the perfect antidote to the stresses of our busy lives.
Cinnamon has been shown to increase circulation and assist the respiratory system, increase stamina and vitality, reduce inflammation and is also known as a stimulant. Cinnamon is also said to have anesthetic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, and antiviral actions - (Molecular targets and health benefits of cinnamon).
Cardamom is a spice best known for it's antioxidant properties. It has also been attributed to supporting healthy lungs, kidney function and the heart. Studies have shown it to even be effective as a mood elevator.
Nutmeg has been used for hundreds of years to help with back problems and promote better digestion. It was also used physicians in ancient times to treat kidney problems.
Clove have pain-relieving and antiseptic qualities and is also attributed as having the ability to increase the potency of other herbs.
Ginger has been used to promote healthy circulatory and immune systems, as well as known for calming and soothing stomach upsets.
“I was the first American researcher to show that tea modifies the metabolism to detoxify harmful chemicals.”
All teas from the camellia tea plant are rich in polyphenols, which are a type of antioxidant. These wonder nutrients scavenge for cell-damaging free radicals in the body and detoxify them, says Weisburger. “Astounding” aptly describes tea’s antioxidant power, he tells WebMD. “Whether it’s green or black, tea has about eight to 10 times the polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables.”
Guide to Trusted and Clean Tea Companies from FoodBabe.com
Tea is not just about a liquid refreshment but about a lifestyle shift. Brew a perfect cup, sit down in a comfortable place and sip it slowly. Relax, enjoy and be happy.