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What Is Chai Tea?

When you head out to the café or the local coffee place to buy yourself a deliciously warm drink, there is every chance that you have spotted chai tea on the menu but have never chosen it because you don't know what it is. Luckily for you, we have everything that you need to know about chai tea, including a recipe or two to help you to make your own at home.

What Is Chai Tea? 

What is chai tea?

Chai tea is a delicious, warming blend of aromatic spices, milk and black tea. The spices include ginger, cinnamon, black peppercorns, cardamom, cloves and star anise. You can also include a sweetener and there is often honey or sugar included, too. This blend is known as masala chai, and it is steeped (ha!) in a rich history, which we'll come to in a minute. Chai tea may have originated in India, but it's found around the world in cafes and in homes as an alternative drink to coffee. You can buy it in instant form, as these powders have been developed for convenience, but unless you buy with authentic sellers like us, these powders have truly missed the mark. The problem with these instant Chai tea options is that they miss the mark when it comes to the essence of the real Chai tea. 

Technically, the word "chai" means tea, so we're drinking "tea tea"! The recipes for Chai tea vary depending on where in the world you drink it, the culture you are in and which family is making you this tasty tea. It's brewed to be strong and served with milk and something sweet. It's a treat to drink, and it's warming in a way that coffee isn't.

Chai Tea History

A little history goes a long way to helping you to appreciate the drink that you are sipping, and there are legends to show that the origins of Chai tea date way back more than 5,000 years. This is back to a time where a King ordered a healing spiced beverage to be created. This was to use in Ayurveda, which was a traditional medicinal practice that relied on the healing power of herbs and spices. Chai tea was created so that the heat from the ginger and black peppercorns would stimulate the digestion in the one who took the drink, and the cloves were thought to have antiseptic properties to relieve pain. Cardamom was added to elevate the mood and the use of cinnamon was there to support circulation. Way back when, star anise was also used to freshen breath! Over the past 5,000 years, though, Chai tea has gone through rather a makeover, with a wide variety of spices used in its preparation, and milk and sugar were added much later to give it that palatably sweet taste that we get today.

Benefits Of Chai Tea

Benefits of chai tea

Chai tea has been popular for many years for a lot of reasons, but the benefits listed below come under the umbrella of all the reasons to go ahead and take a sip! There have - like regular coffee and tea - been studies presented the following benefits of drinking regular cups of chai tea. Let's take a look:

  • Healthy Heart. There have been some studies that show that the heart can benefit from a few cups of chai tea regularly. This is because of cinnamon, which is one of the main ingredients of chai tea. The cinnamon has been cited to have properties that will help to lower cholesterol. Black tea has the same properties and when you put them together, it becomes a powerhouse drink! 
  • Blood Sugar. If you are looking for a drink that will help you to maintain better blood sugar levels, then chai tea may be the one for you. The health benefits in ginger and cinnamon have previously shown to have benefits to your blood sugar levels, and with studies showing that cinnamon in particular could potentially reduce the resistance to insulin and fasting blood sugars, it's worth a try. It's in these cases that you should make chai tea yourself; the chai tea in the cafe's isn't always made with the right components and is highly sweetened to make them taste great. These extra sweeteners kind of negate the properties in the ginger and in lowering blood sugar levels.
  • Helping Digestion & Nausea. Everyone who has ever had nausea before knows that fresh ginger can make a big difference to the sickness they are feeling. As one of the main ingredients in chai tea, ginger is going to continue to work its magic! Drinking chai tea may also assist with digestion, as the combination of cinnamon, cloves and cardamom all have the properties you'd need to prevent issues that occur due to bacterial infections. 
  • Weight Loss. It's not a well-known benefit of chai tea but it could help you with weight loss - even though there is milk in it! The benefits of the protein in the milk keep you feeling fuller for longer and there are plenty of studies that surround the benefits toward weight loss compared to other teas. Black tea is one of the main ingredients and it's known to be a helpful component for weight loss. It breaks down the fat in the body while also reducing your hunger levels. The only issue is in ensuring that you don't have too much sugar or honey with your chai tea; it cancels out all of those properties!

What Is Chai Tea Made Of?

Chai tea is made up of a variety of ingredients, and each chai blend depends on where you are drinking it. In their basics, though, chai tea blends almost always include cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, black tea and cloves. There are some variations out there that also include nutmeg, star anise, peppercorns, fennel seeds, and more. Depending on where you buy your chai tea, you may get to choose the blend that you love the most. If you're making your tea at home, you're going to be able to dictate exactly what goes into your blend to suit your own tastes.

Does Chai Tea Have Caffeine? 

does chai tea have caffeine

It does indeed! However, chai tea only has caffeine if it's blended with real black tea leaves. The caffeine is found in black tea leaves and the spices themselves in the chai blend do not have any caffeine in them. This means that when you have a cup of black tea versus a cup of chai tea, there is around half of the amount of caffeine in a chai tea. When it comes to comparing black or chai tea to coffee, black tea has half the amount of caffeine compared to coffee.

How Many Calories Are In Chai Tea?

If you're calorie counting and trying to watch your weight, then you need to know that you don't have to choose between your favorite drink and your diet. Plain chai is calorie-free, and so if you're going for the vintage stuff, you can count zero calories in every cup. Most of the time, however, people choose a chai latte. While plain chai is delicious, it's not for everyone and some people need the added palatability of milk or sweeteners. Chai lattes have added calories when there are milks and soy milks, and the calories can range from as little as 75 calories up to 200 depending on the milk and the size of the cup. A 12oz cup with whole milk is the highest in calories at 200 ish calories, but skinny chai latte can have as little as 75.

Preparing Chai 

Preparing chai

Before we dive into the recipe for making chai tea, it'll help you to know how to prepare chai - especially given that there are chai blends out there that have different tea bases and different temperatures and steeping times. It's important to get the right brewing instructions for your specific blend if you're buying from a main supermarket: you don't want to pay money for something that isn't going to be right! There are certain brewing tips for chai tea that you have to keep in mind, and some of those tips include:

  • Chai blends can be steeped in water on its own, or you can steep it in a mix of water and milk or even just milk - it’s a matter of taste. You should never boil milk to scald it as if you boil the milk, you will have a weird flavor to contend with!
  • Always use the instructions that you are given, but mostly, you should always use around 2 grams of chai blend per 8 ounce standard cup of milk or water. So, you have to adjust how much of a blend you use if you plan to have a bigger cup of tea.
  • If you are brewing your own, you want fresh, filtered and cold water to start with. Yes, you can boil water from the faucet, but it's always better to boil the filtered water to get the freshest possible taste.
  • Always cover the tea while it's steeping. This will keep the heat in the bowl or the tea pot, and it will help you to brew the tea perfectly.
  • One of the most classic ways to brew chai tea includes steeping the blend in around one half boiled water for five minutes if the chai has black or green tea leaves. If you have an herbal chai you want to brew it for 15 minutes. You can then heat the milk to a gentle bubble before pouring it into the mix, stir it in and add your sweetener. You then use a strainer for the tea leaves and spices and pour your milky chai into your cup.
  • Oversteeping is a possibility, which is why following the specific instructions for your blend is so important. A black or green tea base will be rather bitter if left for too long, so always have a sip after the recommended steep times and decide on longer steeping from there.

Chai Tea Recipe

The internet is awash with recipes for chai tea, and below we have one for you that will give you everything that you need in a chai tea. Let's take a look:

Ingredients:

  • 4 black tea bags
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 teaspoons white sugar
  • 2 whole peppercorns
  • 2/2.5 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Method:

If you have a pestle and mortar, you'll need one. If not, then use the trusty wooden spoon method below to crush your spices. Now you know the ingredients, we've got a list of steps to help you with your method:

  • First, add your peppercorns and cloves into your bowl and crush the spices down until those delicious aromas are released properly.
  • Add the sugar, ginger, cinnamon stick and tea bags to the pot and top with the boiling water.
  • Cover the bowl and steep for 5-6 minutes.
  • Strain the tea and discard the bags and the spices.

Recipe Tips

  • Serving chai tea is completely individual! Some people serve chai tea during festival celebrations, and others love to enjoy chai tea with a sweet treat or two. There are some Indian recipes that can go very nicely with chai tea and the recipes can be found online.
  • Did you know that you can make chai tea vegan? All you have to do is swap out the milk you use for a chai tea latte to a dairy-free option like coconut or almond milk. It's recommended that you use a little less milk than you would with 2%, as it'll be thinner than usual.
  • You should store the tea right after you make it, but if you make the blend ahead of time, you can store it in the refrigerator in an airtight jar and it'll last a couple of days.

What Can Be Added To Chai Tea To Make It Taste Better?

So, chai tea is nice on its own, but that doesn't mean that you may not want to add sweeteners like sugar or honey. There is a huge variation in chai recipes out there in the world, which means that your chai tea can taste very different and the flavors can take your taste buds in different directions depending on the ingredients that you use. If your preferred chai is heavy on the black peppercorns and ginger, you're going to have that fiery aftertaste. 

There are other blends that come with vanilla, nutmeg or cinnamon and these often taste sweeter and milder. You could even get a blend that has cacao or saffron, and it's something that will taste a little earthier and bitter as a result. Finding the right balance of chai flavoring is going to help you to develop your chai tastes. Below, we've got some suggestions to help you to add to your chai tea to make it taste better.

  • Citrus. Despite the fact that chai lattes with milk exist, you can just drink chai tea without the milk, and you can use citrus options to sweeten it. A squeeze of lemon, lime or orange can work very well as a natural sweetener. You've heard of lemon tea, we're sure, but it works because it lightens the bitterness of the black tea leaves. It may taste funny to add this to chai latte, though, but experimenting sure is fun!
  • Honey. When you are looking for a good sweetener for chai tea, honey seems like a no brainer because it is! Honey is classic for tea drinkers, but lemon with it adds a lot to the drink. Honey makes chai tea far more palatable, and it adds a softer, silkier taste to the drink. Too much honey and the tea will feel thick, so be delicate and add a little at a time. You can always add more honey if you need it!
  • Almond/Coconut Milk. You can swap regular milk for coconut and almond milk to add a little flavor, and this helps with making it a vegan drink. These milks add flavor to the tea that you wouldn't ordinarily find.

How To Make A Chai Tea Latte 

How do you make chai tea?

We talked about how to make a chai tea already, but you could really benefit from learning how to make a chai tea latte if you find that you need milk to make it taste better. Below, we've got both the ingredients and the method that you need to ensure that your chai tea is delicious and gives you that warm feeling you need in your tummy! Preparing your own chai latte from scratch will help you to choose the flavors that will be as tasty as possible to you. Let's take a look at how to make the perfect chai tea latte from scratch.

Ingredients:

  • Boiling water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 inch of fresh ginger, sliced
  • 1 star anise
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 5 cloves
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 3 black teabags
  • 1 pint whole milk/milk of choice

Method:

Lightly prepare your cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves, ginger and peppercorns by toasting them in a pan for 3-4 minutes. This is the basic recipe, but if you want to take away some peppercorns or add some other ingredients, it's completely up to you. It's all about taste! This recipe serves four people, but you can increase and deduct as you need to.

  • Add your spices in a teapot of boiling fresh water.
  • Add 3 black teabags to the pot and add the ginger, too.
  • Steep for up to 10 minutes but can be less to your taste.
  • Heat the milk in a saucepan until it gently bubbles, but don't let it boil. 
  • Add your sweetener (sugar or honey) and use a frother or blender to froth the milk
  • Strain the tea into cups or glasses and add the milk.
  • The perfect ratio is 1/3 tea to 2/3 milk.

What Kind Of Milk Is Used In Chai Tea? 

What kind of milk is used in chai tea?

Traditionally, Indian chai is used with the milk of the water buffalo. You may be hard pressed to find buffalo milk in your local store, though, so we go with the Western version of chai tea. This is usually made with whole cow's milk, but if you prefer to go non-dairy you can add coconut milk or almond milk. You can even use soy milk or rice milk, too. Goat milk and yak milk is used in chai tea beverages globally, but the point is that whatever milk you like, you can use.

Can You Make Chai Tea Latte Skinny?

Absolutely. There are so many different variations of chai tea latte out there, but not everyone wants the calories. Sometimes, it's easier to count calories and enjoy your favorite drink when you make a few changes. You may have a case of the Mondays and want to enjoy a huge mocha latte with coffee, but skinny chai latte could be a better option for your calorie intake. With this in mind, here is a recipe (along with calorie count!) for a skinny chai latte! 

Ingredients:

  • 2 black tea bags
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla soy milk
  • 4 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Optional fat-free whipped cream

Method:

  • Add all your spices and tea bags into a tea pot or in the coffee filter area of a drip coffeemaker.
  • Add the boiling water and brew, steeping for up to 10 minutes.
  • Put the non-fat milk, soy milk and brown sugar into a saucepan while it brews and brings to a gentle bubble. Let the sugar dissolve properly before you take it off the heat.
  • Add the milk to the mugs and stir the tea through on top until it's evenly mixed.

Without the addition of the whipped cream on top, this cup of chai latte is only 78 calories. Add 15 calories for a tablespoon of the fat-free whipped cream if you want to indulge a little!

Reasons To Drink Chai Tea 

We've talked about all of the health benefits of drinking chai tea and we've taught you how to make chai lattes, so now we're going to talk through the reasons you should enjoy chai tea on a regular basis. When you make chai tea a part of your routine, you'll feel all the benefits we talked about, but let's take a look at some extra reasons you should make a point of adding it to your day.
  • Black tea leaves are renowned around the globe for their flavonoids. You will find that any black tea bases for chai tea are simply delicious - especially with the right blend of spices and milk!
  • Research has shown that black tea has properties to enhance your health, and you will literally feel warmer on the inside when you start your day with a delicious chai tea or a cinnamon chai tea latte.
  • It tastes amazing. The real reason to settle in with chai tea is because it tastes delicious, and you can adjust it as you need to so that it suits your taste buds. It has a multi-layered flavor that is super satisfying to drink. It's creamy, spicy in a good way and sweet, too!

Chai Tea with Tea India 

Chai tea with Tea India

You want smooth, delicious chai tea blends and for that, you need to speak to the experts at Tea India. At Tea India, we offer Traditional Loose Black Tea, for the most authentic cup of chai. The blend is a strong and full-bodied one, and our black tea leaves are exactly the right base for your chai tea latte, too. Tea India has Assam Tea that works as a great base for chai latte, too. At Tea India, you can select from our range of Tea India Masala Chai or Tea India Cardamom Chai depending on your tastes. These teabags need to have time to steep, but they're still just as delicious as a regular blend. You can even use our Tea India Mugs, only $5 on the site!

If you want to try a creamy and delicious chai latte but you don't have the time, Tea India offers instant chai latte sachet that will deliver that authentic taste that you're searching for. These are made with real milk, delicious tea and spices that have zero added flavors or preservatives. We're all about authenticity here at Tea India, and our chai latte sachets are available in Masala, Cardamom, Ginger and Milk Tea options. You can try these as sweetened or unsweetened, and you can buy them in bundles, too!

Why Choose Tea India

At Tea India, we are true to everything we know about our roots. We're all about embracing and sharing our culture with our tea ranges, and we offer real, karak-tasting instant tea for all of our customers to enjoy. Instant chai tea powder mix don't mean delayed flavor, but that doesn't mean that you have to move too far away from the authentic chai blends. We're all about enjoying a delicious cup of chai, and we aim to continue to be trailblazers of the tea industry. It's our passion to deliver fresh and authentically Indian tea and we do this with all our products. For 40 years, we've been a brand that delivers, and we'll keep you warm. Why not shop today? We welcome you to our site!

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