Take a stroll to your local café or coffee shop and it’s a pretty good bet that they’ve got a chai offering on their menu. The most common, of course, is chai tea. But many menus also offer chai in other forms, such as lattes, frappes, and even desserts such as pastries, cheesecakes, or even cookies!
Here’s something for all you trivia geeks out there: did you know that “chai tea” literally means “tea tea”?
Yep! “Chai” is the Hindi word for “tea” which is further derived from “cha”, the Chinese word for “tea”. So, yes, when you order “chai tea”, you’re ordering “tea tea” from your barista! Don’t be surprised if you get a smug smirk from your barista next time you’re ordering
What is chai tea?
Now that you know what chai tea actually means and why you might get that knowing look from your barista the next time you order it, you shouldn’t get discouraged from ordering it either. Chai tea IS a delicious drink!
In reality, what most people know as “chai tea” is actually masala chai. Masala chai is an Indian beverage that’s made from strong black tea and typically brewed with spices such as ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg. These spices give the tea its distinctly strong and aromatic flavor and scent. However, there is no one “set” recipe when it comes to making masala chai. In fact, this type of chai can be brewed with other spices such as cinnamon, peppercorn, star anise, and cloves. However, the consensus is that black tea (usually from the Assam region) is always the base.
What are the benefits of chai tea?
When it comes to chai tea, the benefits are mostly derived from the black tea and the spices it contains. There are studies that suggest that black tea can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce blood pressure, as well as lower the risk of heart disease.
If your chai tea recipe contains cinnamon, studies have also suggested that cinnamon can help lower “bad cholesterol levels” and triglycerides by up to 30%. Ginger is known to have anti-inflammatory properties and cardamom is known to be an antioxidant.
However, you have to take these health benefits with a grain of salt. Keep in mind that most chai recipes that you find in cafes and coffee shops also contain a healthy dose of sweeteners and dairy products. These can offset any health benefits that you can get from drinking the tea when it comes to the amount of sugar and fat that you consume.
Thus if you want to experience the benefits of drinking chai tea, you need to drink it “pure” without any additional sugars or dairy products.
How to make chai tea?
Since there is no set recipe when it comes to making chai tea, there is no universal way of making it. It will depend on the type of spices that you want to use. However, if you’re making the classic recipe, you can use the classic method.
To make a classic cup of chai tea, you need first need to roast your spices until fragrant. After roasting the spices, grind them into a coarse powder. In a large saucepan, combine the ground spices with fresh spring water and bring to a simmer. Never allow the water to boil because it will cause the spices to become bitter. Allow the spices to simmer for 20 minutes.
After the spices simmer, turn off the heat and stir in loose black tea. Allow the mixture to simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
Finally, strain the tea to remove all the solid particles. You may drink the tea directly or allow to cool and refrigerate. The prepared chai tea can keep in the fridge for up to a week.
What is chai tea made of?
Chai tea is made from a blend of black tea and your preferred spices. You can create a classic chai tea or experiment with other spices. Milk is a common addition to chai tea if you want to make a creamy and rich version.
Is chai tea good for you?
Yes, chai tea is good for you in moderation! If you’re drinking it pure (without added sweeteners or dairy products), you can drink up to 3-4 cups a day to enjoy the health benefits of chai tea.
Does chai tea have caffeine?
Yes, chai tea does have caffeine. A typical 8 oz. cup of chai tea contains around 40 mg of caffeine.
What does a chai tea taste like?
The taste of chai tea will depend on the spices that you use. However, the classic version of the tea will taste spicy, earthy, and floral due to the black tea, ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg.
Does Chai Tea have milk?
No, the traditional chai tea recipe does not contain milk. However, a lot of people find that the classic recipe is a bit too strong for them, so adding milk can help make the beverage more palatable for a lot of people. This is the reason why most cafes and coffeeshops add milk into their chai tea. It makes the tea creamy and helps mellow down the strong flavors of the tea.
What's the difference between chai tea and chai latte?
The difference between chai tea and chai tea latte is the addition of milk and espresso. For chai tea lattes, the chai is usually a concentrated version of the spices so that it stands up to being mixed with espresso. The milk is there to balance out the strong flavors and make the drink richer.
And there you have it! Chai tea might be a misnomer but it’s a pretty accepted one. What’s more, a few raised eyebrows and smug grins seems like a small price to pay to enjoy a hot cup of your favorite chai tea at your local café. So go ahead and order away!