Chai tea is steeped in history. This incredible variety of tea boasts a unique flavor and aroma that can’t help but entice tea lovers into its orbit.
Once you try chai tea, there’s a good chance you’ll never go back to traditional black tea again!
Chai tea may not contain as much caffeine as coffee, but it still packs a punch. When consumed in moderation, chai can be an invigorating, tasty, and healthy addition to your diet.
In this article, we’re going to walk you through its origins, nutritional profile, caffeine content, how to prepare it, and more.
What Is Chai Tea?
Chai tea (also known as masala tea), is a flavorful tea known for its cardamom and cinnamon (see also: How To Make Cinnamon Tea)notes. Chai tea is comprised of black tea brewed with milk, water, spices, and usually a sweetener, such as sugar or honey.
Chai tea has a unique, sweet aroma and taste, and recipes can vary between towns, cultures, and continents.
However, if you’ve ever ordered a sweet, milky tea in a commercial, chain-brand tea, or coffee shop, it will have very little resemblance to traditional Indian chai tea.
Chai tea is thought to date back approximately 5,000 years. An Indian king ordered a new beverage to be created and used in medicinal practices.
Chai tea soon spread throughout India, and as it did, more and more spices were used to prepare the drink depending on the continent it was being made in.
Although all teas are made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis, no Camellia was used in the original versions of Chai tea(see also: What Is Chai Tea?). Black tea leaves, sugar, and milk were eventually added to the recipe in the mid-1800s.
What Does Chai Tea Taste Like?
The modern variations of Chai tea we know and love today are often spicy and sweet. However, the number of spices can vary significantly, which has a significant influence on its taste.
Although recipes vary, cardamom is usually present in all forms of chai tea, however, you may also be able to taste other dominant flavors such as ginger, cinnamon, and even pumpkin spice.
Some recipes even use a masala powder spice blend, which can give your chai a unique punchy, spicy, and warming flavor.
Some of the most common varieties of spiced chai you may find include:
- Mint chai
- Ginger chai
- Masala chai
- Kashmiri Chai
For a base chai recipe, you’ll need a few simple ingredients, including milk, black tea leaves, spices, and sugar.
Chai Tea: Nutritional Profile And Caffeine Content
If you love a hearty, spicy drink, you’ll probably agree that Chai tea is pretty tasty. But what is the nutritional profile of chai tea, how much caffeine does it contain, and is it any good for you?
Although green tea often steals the limelight when it comes to antioxidant-rich teas, it’s not the only one that packs a punch. Chai tea offers many similar health benefits, and its enticing aroma often makes it a more popular alternative.
Chai tea contains plenty of theaflavins and catechins which are thought to combat oxidative stress in the body and prevent cancer, among other conditions.
Depending on the method of preparation, chai tea can also contain Vitamin K, Potassium, Calcium, and Manganese.
Your standard, unsweetened cup of chai tea (brewed with water) contains:
- 0 grams of Sugar
- 0 grams of Protein
- 0 grams of Fat
- 0 grams of Carbohydrates
- 0 grams of Fiber
How Much Caffeine Is In Chai Tea?
Chai tea contains a moderate amount of caffeine. Exact amounts may vary, however, the average cup of chai contains approximately 11 mg per 100 grams of tea, although some cups can contain as much as 20mg.
The amount of caffeine in your tea will also depend on how long the leaves were allowed to steep for.
Caffeine is complex and contains its own unique variety of pros and cons, but up to 400 mg of caffeine per day is thought to be safe for most adults.
Although caffeine helps decrease fatigue and improve alertness, it may also protect against Alzheimer’s, protect the liver, prevent heart failure, and help the body process glucose better.
Does Chai Tea Have Health Benefits?
This healthier alternative to traditional tea and coffee also has a variety of reported health benefits. It’s also notoriously low in calories, making it a popular beverage for anyone on a diet.
Some reported health benefits of Chai tea include:
- Lower Blood Sugar: Black tea can regulate glucose levels and prevent spikes in blood sugar. This is great for controlling glucose levels.
- Lower Blood Pressure: Chai tea also contains cinnamon, which is thought to prevent hypertension. Drinking several cups a day may help lower your blood pressure, but more research is needed to confirm this.
- Improved Brain Function: The black tea and spices found in chai tea are also thought to improve cognitive function. Even just small amounts of cinnamon can improve memory and concentration, and the caffeine and amino acids L-theanine may improve focus.
How To Make Chai Tea
Because recipes vary across continents, there are many different ways to make chai tea.
However, here are a few simple tips and tricks to help you make the tastiest versions:
The simplest way to make chai is to use boiling water, milk, tea, sweetener, and spices while bringing your chai to a simmer, and then straining it.
Remember, though, chai blends can contain different tea bases, steeping times, and brewing temperatures; for best results, consult the brewing instructions for your specific variety of chai.
When you start brewing your chai, always use pure, cold filtered water, and cover your tea while it steeps to maintain the heat.
There’s a lot of room to be creative with your flavorings, so feel free to experiment with the spices in your tea. You can also experiment with your milk; add it whenever you like, and let your chai simmer for different times to produce the right flavor.
The Bottom Line
Chai tea may not be your first choice of beverage when you’re standing in the Starbucks queue, but perhaps it should be.
This phenomenal tea is bursting with unique flavors and aromas we don’t see with other teas, and if you’re a lover of all things warm and spicy, there’s no reason not to love it!
With less caffeine than black tea and coffee, it’s a more mellow, jitter-free caffeinated alternative that tea lovers will adore.