Chai tea or Masala Chai is a mixture of tea, spices and milk originating in India that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years in the rest of the world.
This peculiar combination stands out for its powerful flavor, but also for its health benefits. The properties of chai tea combine, in a single drink, the benefits of ingredients used in natural medicine such as tea, ginger, turmeric and countless other spices.
The chai tea recipe emerged as an adaptation to the Indian palate of the English custom of drinking tea. Despite being a major producer of tea today, India was not a major consumer in the past. Tea was considered a medicinal herb and its consumption was reserved for situations that required a remedy.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the British began to promote its consumption in what was, at the time, one of their colonies. The tea was insipid for the palates of the Indians, accustomed to the intense flavors of their cuisine. Spontaneously, local adaptations arose that incorporated some of its spices, milk and lots and lots of sugar into the tea: chai tea was born.
From that time, tea became a popular drink in India.
Ingredients loaded with health benefits
The base of any chai tea is black tea. From here, there are an infinity of recipes that incorporate very varied spices. Ginger, pepper, cinnamon, fennel, star anise, cardamom and cloves are common, but each recipe incorporates a touch of the particular house.
The properties of chai tea for health are related to the benefits of its ingredients.
For one thing, tea has been used for millennia in the East as a medicinal herb. On the other hand, spices have been used in the traditional medicine of many cultures around the world to treat conditions of various kinds.
As a whole, chai tea stands out for the following benefits.
- Good for the heart – Ingredients like black tea, pepper, and turmeric are known for their effects on cardiovascular health.
- Digestive: most of the spices that are part of the chai tea recipe have properties that will help you have a less heavy digestion. Ginger, fennel, cinnamon, cloves… all are well known for their digestive and carminative properties.
- Antioxidant: other antioxidant compounds from spices are added to the polyphenol richness of tea. A super powerful combination.
- Anti- inflammatory: Chai tea usually brings together several spices that stand out for their anti-inflammatory effects, including ginger, cloves, and cinnamon.
It is worth analyzing in detail the properties of each element that makes up chai tea, since several interesting secondary properties are derived from them.
The properties of black tea
- Heart : Some studies indicate that the polyphenols present in black tea may help combat factors associated with cardiovascular disease, such as blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.
- Diabetes : polyphenols could also increase the activity of insulin. In this way, black tea could help reduce blood sugar levels that can lead to the onset of type 2 diabetes.
- Intestinal flora – Black tea could help create a healthy intestinal bacterial flora. Black tea might prevent the growth of some harmful microorganisms that can cause ulcers and diarrhea.
- Brain : The caffeine and antioxidants present in black tea could help fight neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
- Energy : The caffeine in black tea can give you an extra boost of energy when you need it. Tea also contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which affects how your body assimilates caffeine, lengthening its effect and making it smoother.
- Antioxidant effects : black tea is rich in antioxidants, elements capable of helping to combat oxidative stress, a process that is believed to be related to various diseases and deterioration processes in the human body.
- Anti-cancer effects – Several studies have looked at the connection between black tea consumption and decreased risk of certain types of cancer. The antioxidant effects of polyphenols could prevent the mutation of healthy cells into cancerous ones and stop their reproduction.
The properties of spices
Beyond their presence in the kitchen, spices have been part of the traditional medicine cabinet since time immemorial. Already the Greeks and Romans used many of them to treat their health problems.
Chai tea has among its ingredients several spices famous for their digestive properties, such as fennel, cinnamon or star anise. Many of its components have, in turn, anti-inflammatory effects, such as clove or ginger. In general, chai tea is a drink that can help you if you have complicated digestion or suffer from problems such as colic or flatulence.
At a glance, the spices used as part of the chai tea mix are mainly characterized by the following properties.
- Carminative (to avoid gases).
- Against nausea.
- Against colic.
Ginger is anti-inflammatory and its properties have been studied for the treatment and reduction of pain from osteoarthritis. Additionally, ginger is commonly used to treat nausea and motion sickness. Ginger is a vasodilator and has been used in traditional medicine to improve digestion and treat flatulence and vomiting.
Clove has anti-inflammatory properties. In traditional medicine, it is used for analgesic purposes. It also has uses as a carminative (it is able to reduce the gases produced during digestion)
Cinnamon could be used to lower blood sugar in diabetic people. It also serves to control triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Cinnamon is a great muscle relaxant as it has anti-inflammatory properties. A traditional application of cinnamon is to improve digestive processes, as it helps to expel gas and combat nausea.
Star anise is a good remedy against colic and contributes to good digestion. It is also used against rheumatism.
Fennel to treat conditions related to the digestive process. It is effective in relieving indigestion, colic and flatulence, as well as the feeling of fullness caused by poor digestion.
Cardamom is used to relieve problems related to indigestion and treat cramps and colic. It is a sialagogue (stimulates the secretion of saliva) and an appetite stimulant.
Piperine, an element present in pepper, is known for its anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-hypertensive properties.
Turmeric may not be such a common spice in chai teas, but it’s not unusual either. Its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects stand out and it is also known for the benefits it offers for cardiovascular health.
Take advantage of the properties of chai tea
In some cases, the taste is not at odds with health. Fancy a tasty and healthy drink? Prepare yourself a cup and take advantage of all the properties of chai tea right now. Of course, there are ready-made versions, but you can make your own personal recipe.