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Make Your Own Delicious Chai Tea
What Is Chai Tea?
If you were stranded on a desert island, and could take only one type of hot drink with you, what would it be? Tea, coffee, hot chocolate or a fruit tisane? You might consider chai, with its tasty blend of black tea, milk, spices and herbs.
Chai is a delicious beverage with a long history, and is loved by people all around the world for its delicious flavor and health benefits. It has been brewed for centuries in India, and in fact 'chai' is the Hindi word for tea. In China, the sound is nearer to "cha". You will also see the word 'masala' which is the word for a mixture of spices. Hence Masala Chai - Spiced tea.
Chai is believed to increase peace of mind, improve digestion, help with weight loss and enhance the immune system. Like other teas, it has antioxidant properties. Other suggested benefits have included fighting inflammation, antibacterial action and anti-cancer effects.
Unless otherwise stated, photos on this page are my own. The photo here shows a delicious pot of masala chai brewing. I cropped the photo from the video below - it's seriously better than showing you my untidy kitchen!
Making Chai Tea
You can make your own Chai tea either by decoction or infusion. Decoction is basically the boiling of ingredients in water to extract the flavors. Infusion is steeping the ingredients in hot water to extract the flavors. It's your choice, in the end the taste will be much the same.
Chai Tea Recipes
The Benefits of making your own Chai Tea
Learning to make you own Chai tea can have real calorie and taste advantages:
- you decide how much sugar or sweetener to use
- you choose which type of milk (whole milk, non fat, soy or other)
- you can control the proportions of milk and water in the mix
Here's a simple and tasty recipe to try
Bring 4 cups of cold water up to a rolling boil, then add 5 teaspoons of loose leaf tea, 12 whole cardamom pods, 4 slices fresh ginger root, 10 whole cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks and 12 whole black peppercorns, plus 1 cup of cocunut milk and 1 tablespoon of honey. Simmer gently for 5 to 30 minutes, depending on the strength you prefer. This will make you 4 to 5 cups of chai.
You can substitute another type of milk, such as whole milk, cream, light coconut milk or almond milk. For the sweetener, you could use sugar or stevia.
A traditional chai blend can make a great, uplifting drink served hot or iced. For iced chai, you can use the same recipe, but only boil up 2 cups of water. Simmer for 5 minutes, then leave to step for another 5 minutes. Measure two cups of cold water, and a cup of ice into a heat resistant pitcher. Then pour the brewed tea into the pitcher, straining the leaves. Garnish and serve.
Essential Ingredients for making your own Chai tea
The usual base for chai is a strong black tea such as Assam, which gives a malty flavor when mixed with milk. The tea most often used in India is Mamri tea, which is an Assam tea that has been cured in a special way to creates granules rather than "leaf" tea. If you don't have Mamri or Assam tea, you can use any strong black tea. Note: Kashmiri chai is brewed with gunpowder green tea.
Black Tea is packed full of antioxidants, which are thought to have some beneficial health effects. Some research has shown that black tea may protect LDL (good) cholesterol, thus helping to prevent cardiovascular disease. It may even have anti-viral and anti-cancer properties.
Buffalo milk is the milk of choice in India. In the United States and the United Kingdom, most people would prefer to use whole milk, mixed Â¼ to Â½ parts with water and heated to near- or full boiling. If you want to avoid milk, you can just use water.
Traditional masala chai uses Karha, a spice mixture with a base of ground ginger and green cardamom pods. Regionally, other spices are added to the karha: cinnamon, cloves, star anise, fennel seeds, black pepper, almonds, saffron or salt. In the West, it is common to use allspice, to replace or complement the cinnamon and cloves.
Other ingredients you might find include nutmeg, coriander, cumin, rose petals and liquorice root.
Sweeting your chai
Some people enjoy unsweetened chai, but the presence of a little sugar does enhance the flavor of the spices.
In rural India, jaggery is used as a sweetener. Also spelt as jaggeree, it is an unrefined sugar made from sugar cane juice, reduced down and set into blocks. Sounds very authentic, but if you don't have jaggery, you can use Demerara, brown sugar, white sugar, syrups or honey. If you prefer, you can replace the milk component with condensed milk, which is already sweetened.
You should, of course, sweeten to taste. Some spices will require more sweetening than others, up to 3 tablespoons of sugar in 3Â½ cups of chai. If you want to avoid too many calories, you should pick the spices that require less sweetening!
Chai Tea - An easier way to make chai tea
A strong black Indian tea infused with milk, sugar, and spices - commonly cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, peppercorn, clove and nutmeg (chocolate or licorice also can be used). In India the beverage is known as masala chai, or spiced tea: Masala is the Hindi word for spice, and chai is the Hindi word for tea. Around the country, there are many varieties of chai. While chai is traditionally made from black tea, oolong tea chai, green tea chai and rooibos chai have also become popular.
Stash Chai tempts you with the authentic flavor of India - black tea, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and cardamom. Serve plain or with milk and sweeten to taste.
A Well-loved Brand
Celestial Seasons is a well-known and respected brand. They offer Chai tea and also a decaffeinated version.
The easy way to make chai - 120 stringless tea bags, in six packs. Black tea, with all-natural blend of spices (cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom,black pepper and star anise), roasted chicory and vanilla bean. Contains caffeine.
As above, but with decaffinated black tea.
How do you like your tea?
Which is your favorite?
Chai tea and health
Effect of Spices
Many people and organisations claim health benefits from drinking Chai tea. At the very least, the spices in chai tea are good for weight control because they add flavor without adding calories.
Here I give you a brief summary of some of the beneficial properties proposed for the spices used in various blends of chai. Please note that I haven't carried out any medical research, these are claims found widely in the literature:
Cinnamon helps to calm the stomach and combat nausea and diarrhea. Other suggested benefits for cinnamon include anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant effects. It is thought to help balance blood sugar, increase circulation and reduce fatigue.
Ginger is considered an important root in Eastern medicine. It has powerful antioxidant properties, helpful for inflammatory conditions like arthritis. Ginger also soothes the stomach, and is thought to aid digestion, improve circulation, and boost the immune system.
Nutmeg was used by ancient Arab physicians to treat kidney and lymph problems. It has also been used to ease sciatica and promote digestion.
Clove, from the spice islands of Indonesia, has been used in Chinese medicine for more than 2000 years for its pain-relieving and antiseptic attributes. Cloves also stimulates digestion.
Cardamom is widely found in Tibetan medicine as it is believed to aid digestion, detoxify the body, support the immune system and elevate the mood. In addition, it is thought to improve circulation and fight respiratory allergies.
Fennel was grown in the royal herb gardens of France and Germany in medieval times. It provides vitamin C and potassium, and is still used to treat laryngitis, kidney and eye problems. Fennel also helps disperse flatulence.
Chinese Star Anise is used by traditional Asian herbalists as a cough remedy and to freshen the breath.
Black Pepper may affect our metabolism, with an influence on fat storage. It also aids digestion and has antibacterial and antioxidant properties.
The photo of cardamom is Rainer Zenz, and is in the public domain.
A lovely creamy blend of black tea, spices, honey and vanilla. Each can makes 25 servings of Chai Latte. Simply add a scoop of the mix to hot or cold water, stir and enjoy.
Green tea chai is an interesting concept - many people believe that green tea holds real health benefits due to the antioxidants present. Antioxidants have been implicated in the inhibition of certain types of cancers and in .lowering the incidence of heart disease. Of course, chai is prepared with milk, which is a good source of nutrients and calcium. So, we have Green Chai Tea - a delicious health drink!
Six pack, each containing 20 tea bags, of Chinese green tea with chai spices. Calming and stimulating, with a great flavour.
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An easy to prepare green chai tea that can be served hot or iced. Tastes great, without the big calorie intake you get in coffee shops.