A traditional Indian spiced tea that has been drunk for centuries for its reputed Ayurvedic properties. Ayurveda is the ancient Indian science of holistic self healing. Masala chai tea not only tastes fantastic but it also has amazing beneficial properties and nothing can replace a homemade version! Chai means "milky tea". Add spices and you get "masala chai" . A lovely warming winter brew to boost up your immunity, beat fatigue and act against inflammation. The spices whilst excellent on their own, when fused together synergise to create a wonderfully powerful tea that is so so good for you. Normally tea can be acidic but when combined with spices its acidic nature is reduced and the digestive and pancreatic enzymes are stimulated and increased. In ayurveda, masala chai is "sattvic" and has a calming and balancing effect. Thus helpful in stabilising those annoying pre-menstrual hormones.
I've listed below the recipe the individual health benefits of the spices of this beautiful tea. Definitely read on!
5 teaspoons of loose black tea (or 3 bags)
* darjeeling * assam * orange pekoe *
2 cups of whole milk
2 cups of water
1 cinnamon stick
10 green cardamom pods
4 black peppercorns (white works well too)
3 teaspoons of honey/light brown sugar to taste
1/4 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon or nutmeg
2 star anise
Tips and guidance on lovingly making your masala chai...
Anyone who understands me will know that I like to keep recipes uncomplicated and whilst there are numerous recipes that call for crushing spices and separating out the stages involved, I like to minimise the work involved where I can. I like to think of it as pleasantly lazy. I believe too that recipes are meant to be tampered with. So feel free to make it yours. You know what you like better than anyone. Go ahead, use your preferred brand of black tea - even if it is not mentioned above. Add more honey or sugar. Replace the cinnamon with nutmeg or vanilla. Simply feel the liberation of experimenting with the ingredients. The only suggestion I would make is to avoid use skimmed milk, it just does not taste as nourishing. I have not yet tried it with almond milk, let me know if you do. I would love to know how it tastes. Lots of people say it is not the same and the recipe I use tastes so good to me I don't want to spoil it by changing anything.
So what do you do? Simply put everything (yes everything) into a pan and heat very very gently until it starts to steam and get hot. At this point you can turn off the heat and let the flavours infuse and the spices do their stuff. Half an hour should be sufficient. Then reheat and simply strain through a tea sieve. Heaven!
TIP: Prepare several little jars/containers of your favourite spices so you have a prepared mix ready for another day.
Now for its amazing benefits...
It’s no secret that tea is full of antioxidants. The tannins not only calm and revitalize the body it is said that it can regulate the heart rate and blood pressure by helping with dilating the blood vessels. It may also provide protection for the good cholesterol (LDL) too.
Ginger is used a lot in traditional eastern medicine as it is so well regarded. Ginger helps improve circulation, boost the immune system, reduce inflammation (especially great for arthritis), aids digestion and also gives antioxidant support too. Ginger acts as a diuretic, useful if you are prone to water retention.
Cardamom is used a lot in Tibetan medicine. It is said to help digestion, support the immune system, improve circulation, detoxify the body and fight respiratory allergies. A highly under-rated spice!
Cinnamon has great digestive properties and may also help balance blood sugar as it is a good sweetener. In addition, research shows that cinnamon has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant effects.
A great source of antioxidants, fennel also provides Vitamin C, potassium and fibre. Fennel has also demonstrated to relieve gas cramps. Good to nibble on too to cleanse the palate.
Clove is well know for it analgesic (pain relieving) properties. In addition it has antibacterial, diuretic and an anaesthetic effects. Keeping with the theme, helps with the digestion too.
This warming spice is a relaxant, that can help improve sleep. It may stimulate the liver too by helping with detoxification. The liver works particularly hard at removing toxins during a woman's menstrual cycle. Chinese medicine suggests that this is when liver chi is in excess. The emotion linked with an excess of liver chi is said to be anger (hmm, that's why some people get irritable at a certain time of the month - just saying!)
Star anise is an anti fungal, antioxidant with antibacterial properties. Not only that it smells and looks fantastic floating around your chai.
Research shows that black pepper may have an impact on our metabolism. The study demonstrates black pepper’s direct influence on fat storage, suggesting that it may be useful to prevent fat accumulation. Black pepper also offers antibacterial and antioxidant support and aids digestion and the assimilation of nutrients.
Please bear in mind the above is just my opinion based on what have read. Your opinion may be different. That's good too. There are always several sides to any story.
Importantly, if you think you have a serious illness, remember your doctor should be your first point of call.