Not many things are more comforting than the warming spices of a sweet, steaming chai beverage. “Chai” is the Hindi word for tea. This blend of potent spices originates in India and has been enjoyed for thousands of years brewed as a tea. Traditionally masala chai contains ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and black pepper. Some preparations use bay leaves, star anise, fennel or allspice. All of these spices deliver a multitude of health benefits and have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Antioxidants prevent cell damage and are crucial for disease prevention and to slow the aging process. Chronic inflammation is a factor in the most common diseases, including heart disease, obesity and autoimmune diseases. Many of these spices are also digestive aids, relieving constipation, bloating and gas. The antimicrobial properties of cardamom, cloves and black pepper support oral health and prevent bad breath. Some research has found benefits of chai spices in the treatment of heart disease, diabetes and cancer; however, most of these studies were performed in test tubes or with animals and do not provide enough evidence for human application.
Chai can be enjoyed any season, steaming hot or chilled on ice. You can choose between black tea or rooibos. Black tea contains caffeine and improves mental focus. Rooibos is caffeine free and lower in tannins than black tea. Often prepared with buffalo milk in India, you can blend chai with your choice of milk or a milk alternative.
|Prep Time||5 minutes|
|Cook Time||35 minutes|
8 ounce servings (4oz chai + 4oz milk)
- 2 inches fresh ginger, sliced or 1 Tablespoons dried ginger root
- 2 teaspoons whole cloves
- 4 teaspoons cardamom seeds or 2 Tablespoons cardamom pods
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 5 cinnamon sticks 3-4 inches each
- 3 bay leaves
- 4 teaspoons black assam tea or rooibos or other tea of choice
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Milk or milk alternative
- In a small pot of water, simmer the spices (not the tea) for 15-30 minutes.
- Turn off heat and add tea. Allow to steep for 5 minutes.
- Strain spices and tea leaves. Mix sugar into the chai until it dissolves. Add to a 2 liter pitcher then fill the pitcher to the top with water. Refrigerate to store.
- To prepare, fill a mug halfway with chai and half with milk or milk alternative. Heat or pour over ice and enjoy! For a chai shake, blend chai, milk, ½ a banana and a few ice cubes!