Masala Chai is spiced tea, made by brewing tea with Indian spices and herbs.
The spices include green cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, fennel seeds and peppercorn.
“The warming sensation of the cinnamon and cloves and cardamom screams fall to me. It’s just the warming sense of all those spices really invoke a feeling of cooler shorter days,” said certified tea specialist Lisa Richardson.
Tea has come a long way in the U.S., said Richardson. “The health benefits are definitely helping the industry grow in the U.S.,” she said.
"All tea is good for you," said Richardson. “All tea comes from one plant and share similar health characteristics.”
Health Benefits of Tea
According to WebMD, tea has many health benefits, including helping to fight against cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, encouraging weight loss, lowering cholesterol and helping with mental alertness.
Studies show that three cups per day of tea – due to its antioxidant content – can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Type 2 diabetes and increase bone density, said WebMD senior medical editor Brunilda Nazario, MD.
The herbs, including ginger, and spices such as cinnamon, in chai's masala mix increase the beverage's health benefits.
Tea experts said tea’s health benefits are lost if you use instant tea.
“I recommend something that is loose-leaf, something that you actually have to steep – real tea, real cinnamon real cardamom,” said Richardson. You should be able to see the spices even if they are ground up, she said.
You can make your own mixture, or you can even order tea online. "I always recommend ordering small quantities and see if you like it. Order at least two teas and compare side by side. Once you find a good online tea purveyor you can order larger quantities,” said Richardson.
There are many ways to steep chai, though Richardson prefers this traditional method, which she shares in her book, ”Tea with a Twist: Entertaining and Cooking.”
- Start by adding 7-9 tablespoons of loose leaf chai blend in a large size saucepan. Add 4½ cups of water and 3 cups of milk to the pan. Stir constantly and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 2-3 tablespoons of sugar or honey if desired.
- Strain mixture with a sieve, pour into a pot and serve.