Discover Chai Ingredients and Why the Varied Recipes
The history of spiced chai dates back thousands of years. Legend
has it that the brew was created by a king in an Indian court who made
the tea using a variety of spices known to have healing properties.
The king would use different types and amounts of spices in his tea recipe, depending on the ailment. This legend may explain why there are so many different recipes.
Chai, which is an Indian word for tea, has a rich sweet taste, velvety consistency and soothing aroma. The ancient blend is made with brewed black tea, milk, a sweetening agent, and a fragrant spice mix.
Spices for this smooth, calming brew almost always include whole or crushed cloves, cardamoms and cinnamon. Additional ingredients may include ginger, peppercorns, nutmeg, fennel and star anise.
A powdery spice mix can be purchased in Indian store and specialty retailers. Or, you can easily create your own mix at home, catered to your taste preferences.
A full bodied black tea is typically used to make the tea. It is preferable to use fresh tea leaves as opposed to tea bags for greater flavor, taste and aroma. Darjeeling, Assam or full-bodied Ceylon teas are most often used in recipes.
Depending on your taste preference, you may use whole, 2% or skimmed milk to make your tea. In addition, some recipes call for a combination of skimmed milk and evaporated and/or sweetened condensed milk to give the tea a richer consistency.
The type of sweetening agent, as with the rest of the ingredients, varies based on the recipe and personal taste. The brew may be sweetened with honey, sugar or syrup. In addition, sweetened condensed milk may also be used as a substitute for sugar.
While recipes vary, there are four basic steps to prepare the tea:
According to tea expert Balbir Kaur of Wonderoftea.com, the brew is good for health because of the beneficial chai ingredients use to spice the tea, as indicated below.
Cloves: Used in Ayurvedic medicine as an analgesic, cloves are most often used to soothe toothaches and remedy halitosis. The spice also has antiseptic qualities and can help combat intestinal parasites, fungi, and bacteria.
As a result, cloves have been used to treat diarrhea and similar digestive ailments.
Cardamom: This spice is recognized for its ability to calm digestion, ease nausea and reduce flatulence. It has also been know to help relieve colds and chills.
Fennel: Fennel has aromatic and carminative properties. Tea made with fennel seeds is used by women to ease menopause symptoms.
Cinnamon: Studies suggest that cinnamon may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar, and has properties that help with medication-resistant yeast infections.
Source: Kaur, Balbir article: "Chai Tea - The Latte
of Indian Teas" for wonderoftea.com