Chai tea: origin, properties and preparation

Chai tea is a Hindu drink with some health benefits. We tell you why it can bring you benefit and how to ingest it.

Last update: December 01, 2021

The tea chai originated in India and consists of a mixture of tea, herbs and spices. Actually, its name is redundant, since the word chai translates as ‘tea’ in Hindi. However, it is the popular term throughout the world, although it is also known as masala chai, which means ‘spiced tea’.

To prepare it, some spices must be combined with black tea and milk. It can vary according to the spices that are used, but in general it has some ingredients that are basic. In the end it always acquires a sweet and fragrant flavor.

It is thought that was invented more than 2,500 years ago to take advantage of its healing properties. Since then, it has been part of traditional Chinese medicine and Indian or Ayurvedic holistic medicine.

Origin and consumption of chai tea

Lutgedorf wrote in his article that the origin of tea chai it is millennial. His original recipe was inspired by a recipe called masala, which in Hindi translates as spice. It is said that a king created it more than 2,500 years ago to restore balance between mind, body and spirit.

At that time tea chai it only included the spices to alleviate some minor ailments. A few centuries later, when the British brought black tea leaves to India, they decided to add them to tea. chai. Over time, they were also prepared with green tea and tea leaves. oolong.

The commercial boom of tea chai It started in the 20th century in India. Today it is sold in almost all cafes in the world.

Standard tea is prepared with black tea, hot water and the addition of spices like ginger, cinnamon, cloves and others. However, you can also add warm milk or mixed with water.

Other spices include cardamom, black pepper, fennel, nutmeg, and star anise. It can also be combined with chocolate. Pepper and ginger give it a spicy sensation, while cinnamon and cloves give it an earthy sensation.

Among the ingredients in the form of spices used in this tea is black pepper.

Possible benefits of chai tea

Tea, like water, it is the cheapest drink that humans consume. Drinking tea has been considered a health-promoting habit since ancient times. Today, medical research is building a scientific basis for this belief.

It is a source of antioxidants

The tea chai could contain a good amount of antioxidants that neutralize free radicals, thanks to the presence of polyphenols in its ingredients. An article reports that green tea contains catechins and theaflavins with antioxidant activity.

Cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves are also rich in these substances. Some authors mention the presence of cinnamon acid and cinnamate in the bark of cinnamon.

May improve digestion

Drink the tea chai to alleviate digestion problems may be a good decision. For example, ginger helps to eliminate nausea, especially during pregnancy. Other spices can also improve the digestive process.

Cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon all have antibacterial properties, so they can prevent severe gastrointestinal infections and help the digestive system work better.

Another animal study concluded that using 5 times more black pepper than anyone else can increase digestive enzymes. But these amounts are not present in the tea chai and further human studies are required.

Supports heart health

There is evidence that the ingredients in tea chai help improve heart health. One of them is cinnamon. Some studies conducted in adults found that the intake of 1.3 to 6 grams per day reduces total cholesterol by 26%, LDL cholesterol or bad by 27% and triglycerides by 30%.

However, like pepper, these cinnamon values ​​are above what is indicated for tea chai. Although one review maintains that 120 milligrams of cinnamon per day may be sufficient.

Black tea has been tested in healthy, overweight, and obese people to compensate for its effect on cardiovascular risk factors. A decrease in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol was found, while cholesterol well o HDL was unchanged.

A group of experts observed that drinking 4 or more cups of black tea a day can lower blood pressure levels. While taking 3 cups could reduce the risk of heart disease by 11%.

Black tea contains 6% catechin polyphenols and 12-18% thearubigins. These active components participate in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and the general promotion of health.

Can control blood sugar level

Some spices and black tea that are added to tea chai can help improve blood sugar levels. A group of researchers report that black tea is good for diabetic patients, since it is an unsweetened drink that improves the response to insulin.

Another study also found that black tea improved postprandial blood sugar levels in healthy, prediabetic adults. On the other hand, there are several reports that acknowledge the use of cinnamon to improve blood glucose in type 2 diabetics.

A group of doctors concluded that cinnamon is able to decrease insulin resistance and fasting blood glucose between 10 and 29%. Others found that cinnamon lowered fasting blood sugar levels in poorly controlled type 2 diabetics by 10%.

Another spice studied as beneficial for type 2 diabetes is ginger. They found that oral administration of 2 grams of ginger to type 2 diabetic patients was able to improve blood sugar during fasting.

To achieve the effects demonstrated in these studies, you need to ingest between 1 to 6 grams of ginger and cinnamon. Tea bags chai or any prepared in a cafe contributes less than required.

Could act as an anti-inflammatory

The tea chai contains some elements with anti-inflammatory activity. In an experimental study on black tea, they found a marked anti-inflammatory effect thanks to the presence of flavonoids. This could help relieve muscle and chronic pain.

Ginger has also been associated with the power to reduce inflammation. A study showed that the essential oil and resin components of ginger participate in the metabolic pathways that are activated during chronic inflammation.

On the other hand, cinnamon too helps reduce chronic inflammation and prevent pain. The most powerful anti-inflammatory components in cinnamon are cinnamaldehyde and methoxy-cinnamaldehyde.

Helps prevent weight gain

In a controlled study it was found that drinking 3 cups of black tea per day can inhibit weight gain and reduce the increase in abdominal fat. However, it seems that this effect only works in the short term.

In case of having tea chai you must be careful not to use sugar of any kind. Some varieties add certain amounts to it that would cancel out the effect described in the study.

Chai tea making options

There are several options for preparing tea chai:

  • Chai masala: This drink is the traditional tea that includes black tea, ginger, cloves and cinnamon. You can add a little warm milk and honey as a sweetener. If you like spicy, then instead of milk you add warm water.
  • Rooibos chai: is a varied mix of spices that accompany the chai. For example, it has ginger, coriander, pepper, cardamom and cinnamon. To obtain a caffeine-free chai tea, black tea is substituted for rooibos, a South African red infusion.
  • Solstice spice: to this kind of tea chai it includes apple and orange slices. The spices are cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and pink pepper. It is spicy and fruity.
The addition of orange to chai tea enhances the supply of antioxidants, since vitamin C is added.

Homemade chai tea recipe

The tea chai traditional is very easy to prepare at home. Of course you must have fresh spices to grind them later. It is preferable to use whole milk because it gives more flavor.


  • Cinnamon.
  • Whole clove.
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 black tea bag.
  • 1/2 cup of warm milk.
  • Honey, artificial sweetener, or sugar.
  • 1 pinch of ground or grated ginger.

Step by Step

  1. Crush the clove.
  2. In a pot, place all the spices and bring it to the fire.
  3. When the water boils, reduce the heat in the pot and leave it for 10 more minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat again and add the black tea bag, whole milk or the type of milk you prefer.
  5. Cover the pot and leave it for 5 minutes.
  6. You must strain before serving and sweeten to your preference.
  7. Serve warm.

The tea chai it’s an interesting version of a spice mix whose bioactive components have been studied as healthy. It can help you lose weight, keep your heart healthy and control type 2 diabetes. It is an ancient, aromatic and spicy tea that if you know how to choose the ingredients, the healthier it will be.

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