What is Chai Tea ?
The word “chai” is the Hindi word for “tea,” which derived from “cha,” the Chinese word for tea. Chai can also be referred to as “masala chai” or “spiced chai” since “chai tea” translates to “tea tea.” The term for chai is a mixture of spices or “masala” steeped into a hot tea beverage. Chai, is one of tea’s most popular blends and can be found at most grocery stores or coffee shops. Chai has varied recipes depending on the taste preference. Spices, such as cardamom and cinnamon, are often combined as the base with the addition of milk and sugar to off-set the spicy flavor. Even though these flavors represent the fall and winter seasons, the versatility it brings as a hot or iced beverage allows it to be enjoyed all year round.
There’s evidence that chai tea may be good for the health of your heart.
In some individuals, cinnamon has been shown to help reduce the levels of total cholesterol, “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides by up to 30% (
Most studies used doses of 1–6 grams of cinnamon per day, which is generally more than you’d find in your typical cup of chai tea.
However, a recent review reported that doses of as little as 120 mg per day may be sufficient to offer these heart-healthy effects (
Most research has observed that drinking four or more cups of black tea per day may slightly reduce blood pressure levels. What’s more, drinking three or more cups of black tea per day seems to be linked to an 11% lower risk of heart disease (
However, not all studies are unanimous, and none have investigated the direct effect of chai tea on heart health. Thus, more research is needed before strong conclusions can be made (
Chai tea may contribute to better blood sugar control.
That’s because it contains ginger and cinnamon, both of which may have beneficial effects on blood sugar levels.
Lower insulin resistance makes it easier for your body to use insulin to escort sugar out of your blood and into your cells. This can help lower blood sugar levels.
A recent study gave two grams of ginger powder per day to people with type 2 diabetes, and found it helped lower their blood sugar levels by up to 12% (
Studies report that effective ginger and cinnamon doses tend to range from 1–6 grams per day. Such doses are more than what you can expect to get from store-bought chai tea bags, or a cup prepared by your local barista.
To get the most benefits, try preparing the tea yourself from scratch. That way, you can add slightly more cinnamon and ginger than most recipes call for.
It’s also important to note that, unlike home-brewed chai tea, varieties prepared in cafés are often heavily sweetened, which would likely negate the blood-sugar-lowering benefits of the other ingredients in chai tea.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends women keep their intake of added sugar under 25 grams per day, and men keep their intake under 38 grams per day. This latte alone could max out that limit (
For the best blood-sugar-lowering results, opt for an unsweetened version.
Ginger seems especially effective at reducing nausea during pregnancy. In fact, a review of studies conducted on a total of 1,278 pregnant women found that a daily dose of 1.1–1.5 grams of ginger significantly reduced nausea (
This is about the amount of ginger you’d expect to have in one cup of chai.
Chai tea also contains cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, all of which have antibacterial properties that appear to help prevent digestive issues caused by bacterial infections (
In addition, animal studies report that black pepper may increase levels of digestive enzymes needed to properly break down foods and support optimal digestion (
However, the amount of pepper used in these animal studies was up to five times higher than the average amount consumed by humans. Thus, more studies are needed before strong conclusions can be made.
It May Help You Lose Weight
Chai tea may help prevent weight gain and promote fat loss in several ways.
First, chai tea is generally prepared with cow’s milk or soy milk, both of which are good sources of protein.
Protein is a nutrient known to help reduce hunger and promote feelings of fullness.
Thus, chai tea is likely to be more effective than other types of tea at reducing hunger and preventing you from overeating later in the day. You may even find it useful as a snack (
Research also shows that compounds found in the type of black tea used to make chai may promote fat breakdown and help reduce the number of calories your body absorbs from foods (
What’s more, one high-quality study reported that drinking three cups of black tea per day may help prevent unwanted weight gain or gain of belly fat (
However, it’s worth noting that these effects remain small and appear to only work over the short term.
Finally, animal studies show that consuming black pepper may help prevent the accumulation of body fat, though it’s not yet clear how these results relate to humans (
However, if you’re drinking chai tea, be careful not to consume too much added sugar. Some popular varieties of chai tea contain significant amounts, which would likely counter any of the small benefits outlined above.
The amount and type of milk added to chai tea may also add calories.
A 12-ounce (360-ml) chai tea made with skim milk contains around 60 calories, while a homemade chai latte may contain around 80 calories.
In comparison, the same quantity of nonfat chai latte at your local café may contain up to 180 calories. It’s best to stick to unsweetened, homemade varieties (14).
How to prepare Chai Tea ?
Here is what you’ll need to make 16 ounces (474 ml) of the concentrate:
- 20 whole black peppercorns
- 5 whole cloves
- 5 green cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 2.5 cups (593 ml) water
- 2.5 tablespoons (38 ml) loose-leaf black tea
- 4 inches (10 cm) of fresh ginger, sliced
- Roast peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and star anise on low heat for around 2 minutes or until fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Using a coffee or spice grinder, grind cooled spices into a coarse powder.
- Using a large saucepan, combine the water, ginger and ground spices and bring to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Avoid letting your mixture reach a boil, which will cause the spices to become bitter.
- Stir in the loose-leaf black tea, turn the heat off and allow to steep for around 10 minutes, then strain.
- If you prefer your tea sweet, reheat the strained mixture together with a healthy sweetener of choice and simmer for 5–10 minutes, then cool and refrigerate.
- Strain the chai tea concentrate into a sterilized bottle and let cool prior to refrigeration. The concentrate keeps in the fridge for up to one week.
To make a cup of chai tea, simply stir one part concentrate with one part hot water and one part hot cow’s milk or unsweetened plant milk. For the latte version, use one part concentrate to two parts milk. Stir and enjoy.
1This product has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.” This product is not intended to cure or treat any disease. “
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