Chai in Hindi means “tea”, so when we say we’re drinking Chai tea, we’re actually saying were drinking “tea tea”.
Masala Chai is a fragrant tea, spiced with Indian spices, with the main core ingredient being green cardamom, the third most expensive spice in the world. In addition to black tea, at least four other spices are used to make a masala chai, which could include ginger, cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds, peppercorn, nutmeg or cloves. Sometimes the tea is combined with milk and sweetened to enhance the spiciness.
You would have to drink three cups of chai to get the same amount of caffeine as one cup of coffee. In addition to the antioxidant properties from the black tea, the various spices provide some health benefits, including heart and digestion, even as an aid for weight loss. And cardamom is said to benefit the lungs, kidneys, heart, and elevate mood!
Every Chai is slightly different so please don’t write it off if you find one too spicy or another too peppery. (I will share some that I have tried at some point too!) Chai can be purchased as a looseleaf tea or in pre-packaged sachets (Higgins & Burke and Tetley). Or if you’re in Canada and not sure, spend a toonie at Tim’s and give it a whirl (I take mine black since I have issues with dairy)!
Even better – make your own. Homemade is best because you can control the amount of sugar, and/or make a substitution for the dairy. Food 52 has an easy recipe – one of these days I’ll try it (or you try it and let me know how it went!
For now, bottom’s up!