If you’re tying to kick your coffee addiction, one healthy alternative is to drink chai, a spiced milk tea from India. Unlike coffee, chai has an array of health benefits due to its exotic blend of spices.
Chai tea was created by Ayurveda, the traditional and holistic medicine of India. Since Ayurvedic medicine works with each individual’s body constitution, the spices used in chai can vary based on what your body needs.
Chai typically consists of black tea, milk, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and pepper. Other popular spices used are fennel seeds, star anise and saffron.
All of these spices contain medicinal and healing properties such as aiding the digestive tract, boosting your metabolism and excreting toxins from the body. Although the spices are infused together to make chai, it’s important to analyze the health properties of each ingredient so you can create your own therapeutic concoction.
Black tea contains many antioxidants which help boost the immune system and fight inflammation.
Widely used in Indian cooking, this spice helps detoxify the body and is especially beneficial for the lungs, kidneys and heart.
Aside from its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, studies show that cinnamon can increase circulation and help reduce fatigue.
Cloves help aid the digestion process and have pain-relieving and antiseptic
This powerhouse herb has many antioxidant properties, helps relieve water retention and aids digestion.
This root has been used for centuries to aid digestion and reduce inflammation. It is also used as a stimulant for the immune and circulatory systems.
Commonly used to support our metabolism and circulation, black pepper also provides antibacterial and antioxidant benefits.
Saffron has been used to relieve a plethora of aliments since it provides a good source of essential minerals and vitamins.
The star-shaped fruit is known to contain antifungal, antibacterial and antioxidant properties.
Given the aromatic flavors and vital health benefits chai provides, its no wonder that it has grown in popularity and is now being offered in coffee shops. However, to gain the full health benefits of this drink, we would recommend making your own brew at home since many of the commercial chai concentrates contain added sugars.
How to make Masala Chai - Makes 1 cup
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup milk (if you are using skim, 1 percent or a milk substitute, use half milk and half water)
- 1-2 black tea bags (Assam, Darjeeling, Ceylon)
- 2 cardamom pods
- 2-3 whole black peppercorns
- 1-2 pieces of cinnamon
- 2-3 slices of fresh ginger
- 1 strand of saffron (if available)
- sugar or sweetener to taste
1. Press the cardamom seeds until they crack. Bring the water, tea bags and spices to a boil.
2. Boil for 3-5 minutes or until the tea is black and the water has been reduced. The boiling process is very important because it helps infuse the spices together.
3. Add the milk and continue simmering on a low flame.
4. Turn off the heat and let the mixture steep for 2 minutes.
5. Strain out tea and spices.
6. Add sugar or a sweetener to taste.
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