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What Is Chai Tea?
Chai tea is a warming blend of black tea, milk, aromatic spices, including ginger, and a sweetener, often honey or sugar, commonly known as masala chai. It originated in India but has become widely popular around the world, particularly in cafes, as an alternative to coffee. Many versions of this flavoured tea beverage - instant, highly processed, sweetened chai teas that are powdered or liquid have been developed for the sake of convenience, but none of these capture the real essence of the beauty of masala chai tea. Real chai tea is incredibly delicious and perfect for iced tea.
The term "chai" in many languages literally means "tea", and "chai" as we know it, came originally from the Hindustani word, which is also very similar to the Chinese word for tea - "cha".
Chai Tea or Just Chai?
If you're not used to the word "chai" translating directly to "tea" in many languages, the term "chai tea" will sound quite normal. For anyone else, saying "chai tea" will be akin to saying "tea tea", so it's a little strange. However, as it is more common to use the phrase "chai tea" over simply saying "chai", we will continue to use the term "chai tea" in this article.
What Is a Chai Tea Latte?
Although "chai tea latte", "chai latte" and "chai" are often used interchangeably, the term "chai tea latte" or simply, "chai latte" which most commonly appears in cafe menus, communicates that it uses milk in the same way as a caffe latte is prepared by a barista - by steaming and frothing milk before it is added to a chai tea concentrate.
Chai Tea Benefits
Some studies suggest that normal chai tea may be good for heart health.
Cinnamon, one of the main ingredients of chai tea, has been shown to reduce the levels of total cholesterol, "bad" LDL cholesterol and triglycerides by up to 30%.
Other studies show that black tea, which is also another main ingredient of chai tea, may contribute to lower blood cholesterol levels.
Chai tea can also assist with maintaining better blood sugar levels. This is due to the health benefits found in both cinnamon and ginger which may have beneficial effects on blood sugar levels.
In another study, ginger powder was given per day to people with type 2 diabetes, and their blood sugar levels were lowered by up to 12%.
To make sure you get the most benefits, it is important to make the chai tea yourself. Unlike cafe brewed chai tea, which is made from highly sweetened chai tea concentrates, and likely negates the blood-sugar-lowering benefits of the other ingredients in chai tea, home-brewed chai tea can be made with significantly less sugar.
Ginger, one of the main ingredients in chai tea, is well known for reducing nausea, particularly during pregnancy. In fact, a review of studies conducted on a total of 1,278 pregnant women found that a daily dose of 1.1–1.5 grams of ginger significantly reduced nausea.
Chai tea also contains cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. These ingredients all have antibacterial properties that have been found to help prevent digestive issues caused by bacterial infections. (5, 6, 7, 8).
May this one sounds like a stretch, but as chai tea is made using milk. And if you're using soy or cow's milk, you'll get the benefits of the protein which helps you feel fuller for longer, keeping a hungry appetite at bay.
There are also countless studies around the weight loss benefits of drinking black tea, which is the main ingredient in chai, as it promotes the breaking down of fat, helping reduce the number of calories your body absorbs.
Chai Tea Caffeine - Does Chai Tea Have Caffeine?
Yes, chai tea has caffeine, but only when it is blended with real black tea leaves. Black tea contains caffeine, however, the spices used in chai tea do not contain any caffeine. This means that when you compare a cup of black tea to a cup of chai tea, you will find that there are about half to three quarters the content of caffeine in chai tea as black tea. A cup of black tea has about half the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee.
Chai Tea Ingredients
Chai tea ingredients vary from chai blend to chai blend, however, they almost always include black tea, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves. Other additions often include peppercorns, fennel seeds, nutmeg and star anise. Tielka's South Cloud Chai has our signature black tea blended with ginger, cinnamon, freshly ground cloves and cardamom pods, fennel seeds and nutmeg.
Easy Chai Tea Recipe
I love this chai recipe, as it's so simple - you first make the spiced tea concentrate and then store it in the fridge to make a chai latte on the go (it's even perfect for iced tea). This method also extracts so much more flavour than the usual brewing method making it extremely good value, particularly compared to some of the sticky chai teas available.
The Main Ingredient - South Cloud Chai
This is the chai tea blend we recommend using to make the chai tea concentrate as it uses freshly ground spices with a full-bodied, high-quality strong black tea base (Tielka's own Tielka Breakfast!). One 160gm pouch of South Cloud Chai is also enough to make our chai recipe four times, giving an incredible yield of 64 servings.
How to Make Chai Tea Concentrate
CAFE OWNER? If you need to make a chai tea concentrate in bulk, simply multiply the below quantities by four and this will give you 64 servings on hand for brewing chai lattes or iced tea on the go. It's much more cost-effective than some of the commercial sticky chai teas available and will blow your customers away!
Makes 16 servings
- South Cloud Chai - 1/2 cup / 40gm / 1.4oz
- Water - 1.2L / 6 cups (plus one extra cup)
- Honey - 1/3 cup / 120gm / 4oz
- Measure South Cloud Chai in a saucepan;
- Add water to the saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat;
- Simmer gently with lid off for 15 minutes;
- Remove from heat and add honey;
- Mix well until honey is dissolved;
- Strain mixture through a tea strainer, adding the extra cup of water and pressing on the spices and tea with a spoon to extract all the fragrant liquids;
- Store in a 1 litre / 1-quart bottle in the refrigerator;
How to Make Chai Tea Latte
- Chai tea concentrate - 1/4 cup
- Milk - 3/4 cup
- Measure chai tea concentrate and milk into mug;
- Heat in microwave for 90 seconds (or if you want iced tea, just add ice);
- Enjoy your chai latte (or iced tea chai latte)!