Chai masala is a common drink consumed in India. In fact, ‘chai’ refers to all types of tea in India. There are also other countries that use ‘chai’ to simply signify ‘tea.’ Chai masala includes a combination of spices with black tea, milk, and sugar and is fairly ubiquitous throughout the country.
I had an opportunity to try chai masala recently with a new friend. Living overseas has afforded me the opportunity to meet other people from all over the world, and I consider it to be a blessing and an honor. Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting an ethnically Indian woman and her family who just moved to Switzerland from the UK. Our girls have played together and we’ve shared some lovely afternoons filled with delicious food and tea. One afternoon, during a playdate with our kids, my new friend asked if I would like a cup of tea and said, “Of course!” I love tea and drink it nearly every day. She brought out what I now consider to be the some of the tastiest tea I’d ever had! I asked her where I could buy it and she said she made it herself – Chai Masala! I asked her immediately for the recipe. Her recipe does not include black tea but you can certainly add it if you drink it.
Here’s what goes into this tasty tea.
The base of the tea includes just 3 simple spices.
Chai Masala: Spices That Pack an Antioxidant Punch
Cloves are incredibly cherished worldwide and known for their medicinal characteristics in addition to their culinary qualities. They are the flower buds taken from the Evergreen Rain Forest tree that is found in Indonesia. Cloves are also
- anti-inflammatory, anti-flatulent and anti-septic
- used medicinally as an essential oil (eugenol)
- known to improve digestion and issues with constipation
- a source of vitamin K
Cinnamon is a wonderful spice used in both sweet and savory dishes and has been used for thousands of years. It is the bark from trees from the genus Cinnamomum. Cinnamon is also
- important for regulating blood sugar
- reducing LDL cholesterol levels
- effective for fighting infections
- effective against dementia according to a study that isolated the compound CEppt and found that it inhibited the development of Alzheimer’s
Cardamom is a common spice used in Indian cuisine. It is also one of the primary spices used in Garam Masala. Cardamom is
- effective for halitosis. Just chewing on a few seeds will do wonders to get rid of bad breath.
- useful for digestion
- found to be effective for depression sufferers when used as an aromatherapy.
- a cancer fighter with well-known phyto-chemicals IC3 (indole-3-carbinol) and DIM(diindolylmethane) especially effective against breast, ovarian and prostate cancer.
- 3-4 whole cloves (find them here)
- 3-4 cardamom pods (find them here)
- 1-2 cinnamon sticks (find them here)
- 1 1/2 cups or 350 mL of water (this serves 2)
- Crush the cardamom pods and remove the seeds. Set them aside.
- Bring 1 & 1/2 cups or 350 mL of water to boil.
- At the point of boiling, add your spices. Let them boil high for a minute or so. Then turn down a bit to a simmer. Let it simmer for 20 minutes.
- Strain your tea through a fine mesh strainer.
- Add your favorite unrefined sweetener (I use palm sugar) and some milk, cream or nut milk and stir.
This is a wonderfully aromatic and flavorful tea. My daughter walked in while I was making it and declared, “Wow, mom! It smells like Christmas in here!” If you have only used tea bags for your tea then this will be a surprise because the flavors are very pronounced and distinct as compared to bagged tea. It is well worth the little extra effort.
Live well and be happy!