September 21st marks a special day, one that allows the aroma of ancient herbs and spices to fill the room and delight taste buds. We are, of course, talking about National Chai Day, which celebrates the bold and comforting flavor of an Indian beverage that dates back roughly 5,000 years. It’s a wonderfully spicy beverage that has become popular all over the world.
What Exactly Is Chai?
Masala chai is Hindi for “mixed-spice tea,” but Westerners have come to know this simply as chai. While there isn’t a set recipe, the common chai mixture contains cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and peppercorns, although many people like to add turmeric or nutmeg. Chai is simply a spice mixture, but Indians began adopting British-style tea practices by boiling the spice mixture with milk and sweetener in the early 20th century. The chai tea that is found in Western culture typically contains sugars or additives, differentiating it from the traditional chai tea that has been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.
How Does It Taste?
Chai tea is very aromatic and has a spicy flavor that awakens the palate. The slight pepperiness from the ginger and peppercorns is complemented by the earthy undertones of the cinnamon and cloves. Because of the robust flavor, chai tea is often sweetened or tamed by adding it to coffee or black/green tea.
Benefits Of Chai Tea
Excellent For Digestion:
Most teas are beneficial for the digestive system, helping to regulate bowel movements or maintain gut health. The ginger, which works to deliver oxygen to organs and improve circulation, is largely responsible for benefitting digestive health. Black pepper assists the pancreas with producing digestive enzymes that act as catalysts to accelerate the break down of fats and proteins.
Supports Immune Health:
Cardamom, one of the featured spices in chai tea, has been used in traditional Tibetan medicine for centuries. Due to the high vitamin C content, cardamom is beneficial for immune health. Cardamom comes in two varieties, green and black. It is advantageous to obtain chai tea that contains black cardamom because it is praised for the expectorant and antiseptic properties. Then again, green cardamom works to expel mucus and clear the sinuses. Both varieties have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that assist the immune system in fighting bacteria and viruses.
Aches & Pains:
Most of the spices in a chai blend contain anti-inflammatory properties, helping to alleviate aches or pains commonly associated with arthritis. Studies have shown that the ginger and cloves in chai can reduce inflammation, from muscle or joint pain to mild headaches.
The standard chai tea is made with chai spice and loose black or green tea. Traditionally, chai tea is brewed with hot water and warm milk (or plant milk), because the milk adds a creaminess that beautifully tempers the powerful chai spices. Don’t be chai, make the following chai recipes and enjoy the flavors!
Homemade Chai Tea Recipe:
This is not your average chai tea mix that you get at a coffee shop. This warming tea aids digestion, soothes the throat, and is delicious!
Click here to make the recipe.
Overnight Chai Steel Cut Oats:
Breakfast on-the-go is a mere five minutes away now that you have this chai-spiced overnight oat recipe. There is no cooking necessary!
Click here to make the recipe.