Chai Tea Benefits
In our mint sun tea post we talked about some of the health benefits of tea and why you might want to consider replacing some of your coffee consumption with tea consumption. All these things and more certainly apply to Chai Tea. Tea is high in antioxidants http://www.nutrex-hawaii.com/benefits-of-antioxidants, which have been shown to have numerous health benefits. In addition to this, the spices commonly found in chai tea have also been shown to provide great benefits. Cardamom has been shown to elevate your mood and is believed to benefit the heart, lungs, and kidney. Cinnamon health benefits include improved circulation, increased awareness, and a reduction in fatigue. When you add together the cinnamon health benefits, the benefits of cardamom, and all the existing benefits of tea then it’s easy to see that the why we’re excited about the health benefits of replacing coffee with chai tea or a homemade chai latte. And why we’re super excited to share with you are homemade chai tea recipe!
So what is Chai?
Chai simply translates to tea in India, but in the Western world chai is thought of as a particular type of tea that hails from India. The ingredients in chai are usually tea leaves boiled with cardamom, milk in sugar. And you’ll often hear people talk of “black chai tea” because chai tea and chai lattes are most often made with black tea, although in can be made with green tea or in other forms.
Does Chai Tea have Caffeine
Typically yes, but the levels of caffeine found in the average cup of chai tea are substantially lower then the levels of caffeine found in the average cup of coffee. Black tea has roughly 1/3 the amount of caffeine you’ll find in coffee. Levels of caffeine in green tea are even lower and although it was originally thought that the health benefits of green tea were even greater, it’s now commonly believed that black and green tea share similar health benefits. Chai Tea can also be made with Rooibos, a caffeine-free variety of tea. But, it’s also worth noting that the caffeine in tea doesn’t seem to interact and have the same effect on our bodies as does the caffeine in coffee. This is because tea contains something called tannin which causes the caffeine to be absorbed more slowly into our systems. So we avoid that “caffeine jolt” which so many of us rely on in the morning, but not without side effects like jitters and the occasional “coffee rage”. You might be more familiar with tannins associated with wine. Perhaps the presence of tannin in both wine and tea are a big reason why both of these drinks are commonly associated with relaxation. Many people even find they can have evening tea without disturbing their sleep, while, if you’re like me, if you drink coffee too late in the day you might find yourself climbing the walls at night!
Homemade Chai Latte and Chai Concentrate
If you experimented with chai before you may have noticed that it can be bought as a concentrate, a powder mix, or in loose leaf form. Or, of course, you may have purchased a Classic Chai Tea Latte at your local Starbucks. Chai concentrate is just what you think, a concentrated chai tea mix that can be used for making multiple batches of your favorite chai beverage. Sure beats the daily expensive trip to Starbucks! A chai latte is just the end result when you combine your chai concentrate with frothed or heated milk.
Personally, I like to switch to tea in the middle of the day. As mentioned above, if I drink coffee in the middle of the day I have trouble sleeping at night. Plus, along with the chai tea benefits over coffee of less caffeine and spice power, it provides the same cozy warm comfort as does coffee, especially on cold winter days.
I tried a chai latte for the first time several years ago and I fell in love. At the time, I wasn’t even thinking about the potential health benefits. I just loved all the spices and the flavor. And I know I’m not alone in loving the flavor; Many people actually prefer the flavor of chai over coffee. More recently I have purchased a few concentrates and teas that are “chai flavored”, but I feel like they have additives in them or don’t end up tasting as good as my memories. So, Pinterest to the rescue! I started searching for ideas and coming up with the right mix of spices so I could make my own chai concentrate. which I could use to make my own Homemade Chai Latte.
Recently, I was listening to the Sorta Awesome podcast #38 and one of the guests said her “awesome of the week” was to have a Girls Night In. This is a night where you invite your friends over to hang out in their comfy clothes, drink wine (or tea), listen to some relaxing or holiday music, eat some low prep snacks, and work on some small task like addressing your Christmas cards or working on a craft project. Nothing fancy. Just getting together and hanging out with friend. I think this is a wonderful idea and I’m planning on having “Chai Girls Night” soon! Nothing like a frothy Cinnamon Spiced Chai Latte to warm your soul as you hang with friends! It’s also perfect for holiday parites and makes a great gift!
Making Chai Concentrate is pretty straight forward. For me, the hardest part is getting all of the right spices since we don’t exactly have the best shopping options in our small town (Grrrr!). Luckily I’ve had good success ordering through Penzeys and Amazon. I also try to stock up every time my shopping takes me out of our small town and to some better stores: Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s/ Wegmans.
I go the black tea route for this Chai Concentrate — I have found several good black tea options (Tazo, Twinings, etc) at Target — although, as mentioned above there are lots of options . And, also as mentioned above, the caffeine levels in chai tea tend to end up way below coffee levels (or you can even make it without caffeine with Rooibos, but if you are still worried about the caffeine content, either use decaf tea or steep the tea for a much shorter time (less than a minute instead of the full five minutes in the recipe).
So get going! Make some chai concentrate today and enjoy chai lattes throughout the holidays!
On to the recipe:
Black Tea Chai Concentrate
- 5 c . water
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 7 cardamom seeds
- 2 star anise
- 10 cloves
- 8 whole black peppercorns
- 1 " piece of ginger , peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 " piece of turmeric , peeled and roughly chopped
- 1/2 tsp . freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 black tea bags
- 2 tsp . vanilla
- 1 tsp . grated cinnamon
- 1/4 c . brown sugar (optional--or sweetener of choice)
- Combine the water and ingredients through nutmeg in a small pan.
- Cover and bring to a boil.
- Once liquid reaches a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add tea bags and sugar and steep for 5 minutes.
- Stir and strain liquid through a fine mesh sieve.
- Add vanilla and grated cinnamon and stir.
- Pour into large mason jar and store in fridge for 1-2 weeks.
- To use, mix with equal parts frothed or heated milk of choice.
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