Spices are an important part of our world history. They have brought cultures together through trading routes and have been used for centuries to add flavour, colour and aroma to foods.
Tea, on the other hand is one of the most popular beverages in the world. In India Chai literally means ‘tea’, and Masala chai translates to ‘mixed spice tea’- although we commonly refer to this as simply ‘Chai’.
Chai tea has been traditionally brewed in many countries including India, the Middle East and Africa. The locals enjoy drinking it daily for its natural medicinal properties to promote good health. Unique blends of invigorating and aromatic Indian spices are the secret to creating Chai. Typical blends include cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and star anise for a sweet and spicy aroma and flavour. Chai combinations do vary between continent and country depending on their traditional use and availability..
Chai is traditionally considered a tea which is prepared by brewing the black tea and a combination of spices in milk rather than water. These days if you went into your local café and asked for ‘Chai’ they would most likely whip you up a frothy Chai Latte (milky chai), often using a sweet chai flavoured syrup, so if it’s tea you’re wanting you may need to be a little more specific!
Benefits of Chai
Chai is a great drink for those wishing to limit their intake of coffee as it has a lower caffeine content.
The benefits of Chai are found in its blend of spices (1):
- Cinnamon is a warming spice particularly good for easing nausea, indigestion and flatulence
- Ginger is calming on the digestive system, relieves nausea and stomach cramps, flatulence and promote circulation through its warming properties
- Star Anise has traditionally been used to sweeten the breath and assist digestion
- Nutmeg is a calming spice to aid digestion and relieve vomiting and diarrhoea
- Cloves are the most stimulating of spices. They both calm and stimulate the digestive and nervous systems, relieving nausea, flatulence and are used as an antiseptic
- Cardamom has traditionally been chewed by ancient Egyptians to whiten their teeth, and drunk as a tonic before meals to stimulate an appetite and reduce flatulence