Picture: Chia Tea Advertisement.
If you are an A-typical ‘Lily’ no doubt you’re not looking forward to the cooler months of the year? Am I right? Too much hiding indoors and not enough frolicking in the sunshine! Well, with winter soon approaching you might as well embrace the season and relish in the lovely things that come with it, like drinking warm & creamy Chai tea on a cold day! If you haven’t tried it and I mean the ‘real’ stuff, well then it’s a must!! Not only does it taste amazing, it turns out it’s also super good for you!
Chai tea is an exotic tea blend originating from India. It’s history dates back to 5,000 years ago to the ‘Vedic’ period in India where legend has it that the King of Siam (at the time) was on a quest to create a healing beverage utilising the ancient properties of ‘Ayurveda’ medicine. Since it’s invention, it has been incorporated in Ayurveda practices along with massage, herbs and yoga to aid in acquiring optimum health.
Trivia: The word ‘Chai’ is actually a Hindi word and is the generic name for ‘tea’.
The popularity of Chai tea spread throughout south Asia and eventually made it’s way to the western world where we now commonly embrace it as one of our go-to morning beverages. I’m sure many of you have enjoyed your Chai Tea not even realising the health benefits it has due to the mix of wholesome ingredients.
Recipes vary and are passed down through families, but the basic ingredients of chai tea are; black tea, spices, sweeteners (honey or sugar) and a mix of water and milk/soy milk. The healing elements are the aromatic spices; cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, star anise, peppercorns and cloves.
Each spice has it’s own mystical properties that have been used for centuries in Ayurveda medicine;
- Cinnamon is a highly prized antioxidant as it promotes good circulation, improves digestion & helps to thin the blood to strengthen heat muscle.
- Black Pepper is also great for digestion and provides comfort to coughs & colds by helping your body to sweat them out.
- Ginger is known as the ‘universal medicine’ as it has many uses; it is calming on the mind & a tonic to the heart.
- Cardamom & cloves are also spices that are great for optimal digestive health. Need any more reason to switch from your morning coffee to Chai??…Well here are some of the proven health benefits of drinking Chai. Complements of Bodyandsoul.com.au.
1. Reduces cancer risk
Cardamom, cinnamon and ginger contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that have cancer-prevention properties. If consumed regularly you can reduce the risk of certain cancers such a bowel and stomach.
2. Preventing Colds
Avoiding the common flu is almost impossible in winter however the antioxidants and phytochemicals found in chai work in unison to support our immune system & therefore reduce the risk of contracting viruses going around. Ginger, particularly, has gut-boosting (i.e. digestion) properties, which benefit our defences.
3. Relieves PMS
If it's that time of the month and a hot water bottle just isn't doing the job, a brew of chai should do the trick. Chai spices such as cinnamon and ginger have been shown to balance hormones and alleviate pain associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
4. Boost Metabolism
Did I just see you ears prick up?? Spices can help boost the metabolism so regular consumption of chai spices can stimulate digestive and pancreatic enzymes. There is also improved oxygen uptake and fat breakdown. Not only that but Chai also contributes to the feeling of fullness. All these factors combined rouse our metabolic switches.
5. Prevents Diabetes
Chai spices, if consumed regularly, may assist in regulating blood sugar levels. This is particularly important in the long term to help prevent type 2 diabetes. In the short term, it can help offset sugar cravings. (Please note, though, this doesn't give you a free pass to consume unhealthy foods to excess.)
6. Reduces Bloating
Do you suffer from bloating or gassiness? All the spices contained in chai enhance the activities of stomach and intestinal digestive components. The spices also encourage movement through the gastrointestinal system. This prevents water and air being drawn to the area and therefore prevents bloating and gas production.
7. Boost Energy
Common stimulants contained in energy drinks and soft drinks, coffee and lollies provide instant energy hits followed by rapid slumps. The Indian spices contained in traditional chai teas help facilitate energy production within the body. They are a natural and healthy stimulant. Many chai recipes currently available in stores contain black tea as the base ingredient, and therefore caffeine. However, the goodness from the spices leads to a more balanced energy release into cells. This is beneficial as a morning kick-start and in preventing the afternoon or early evening energy slump.
Indian street stall make some of the best & authentic Chai tea.
After doing some ‘field research’ I have found that not all Chai’s are created equal. There are a lot of ‘try-hard’ Chia teas versions available at café’s that might as well just be cinnamon flavoured water! Not pleasant! Amelia the Head Designer is quite the connoisseur of Chai and recommends these places for a delicious, real chai…
“M deli at Tamarama consistently make my absolute favourite Chai in Sydney, they use organic soy milk and T2 Chai blend with lots of cinnamon to top it off. I also love the homemade blend that 3 Blue ducks in Bronte create, with slightly stronger ginger notes and the 'Soy Chai Brew' at 3 Williams in Redfern as my local fav when at the office. But I would have to say that from all the Chai I have experienced here in Australia the most enchanting of them all was at the Roadhouse in Byron Bay. They make their own unique blend with emphasis on the Turmeric giving it a yellow tinge and ginger for some zing…incredible!!! Served with cinnamon and a little shot of organic honey.” amelia Xx
Ginger & Turmeric Chai, The Roadhouse Byron Bay.
If all else fails why not try making it at home? It’s actually easier than you think and taste better then any other Chia tea I have brought from a shop. Once you have the ingredients you can make it again & again! Below is a basic recipe to follow:
- 2 cloves
- 1 star anise
- 3 cardamom pods
- 2 cups milk (soy or cow’s)
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated or chopped ginger
- Small piece of cinnamon stick
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoons unperfumed leaf tea (such as English Breakfast)
- 1 cup boiling water
- Raw honey (about 1 generous teaspoon per person)
- Using a mortar and pestle, bash the cloves, star anise and cardamom pods to release their flavour, making sure the cardamom seeds come out of the pods.
- Pour the milk into a saucepan and add the bashed spices along with the ginger, cinnamon stick, ground cinnamon and tea leaves. Heat over a medium–high heat for a few minutes until the milk is close to boiling point, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for five minutes. Add the boiling water and simmer on a very low heat for a further five minutes. Strain or place the chai in a coffee plunger.
- Add honey to taste and serve.
Ref. Ayurveda for Dummies, Angela Hope-Murray
Ref. 7 Reasons to order Chai
Blogger, designer, beach babe and colour obsessed textiles geek Monique Luchterhand is a frequent contributor, correspondent and close friend of the brand. Follow her blog creatureofcolour.com to find out more about her colourful world…