Masala Chai (Tea) Health Benefits & Side Effects
Tea is known as ‘Chai’ in several places of the world. Chai tea originates from the ancient Ayurveda. It is a famous beverage possessing significant aroma and health benefits besides being a regular warm sweet beverage. The preparation of chai tea varies from place to place depending on the spices one prefers. Spices act as special add on to the typical soothing and refreshing flavor of chai tea.
Chai tea ingredients
|Darjeeling black tea leaves||1/2 tsp.|
|Cardamom (Elachi)||2 – 6 seeds|
|Cloves||1 – 2 cloves|
|Cinnamon||1 inch stick|
|Black pepper (black peppercorns)||A pinch|
|Long pepper||A pinch|
|Fresh Ginger sliced||1/2 half inch slice|
|Skimmed or whole milk||2 cups|
You can also use other herbs and spices in chia tea, according to your taste and
How to make chai tea
Chai tea is usually a combination of black tea, sweetener, milk and spices of choice. To start with making tea, items required are as follows:
- A small utensil preferably a pot
- A spoon
- A tea strainer
- Chai tea leaves
- Sweetener which can either be sugar, molasses, jaggery or brown sugar
- Skimmed or whole milk
- Spices (ginger, cardamom, fennel seeds, cinnamon, salt, pepper)
- Add two cups of milk to a small pot and place it on the stove.
- Let it heat for some time, in the meanwhile, prepare the spice of choice. If it is ginger, then chop it into small pieces and mash the pieces to extract the juice out of them. In case of cardamom, just crack open the pods to add them to the boiling milk. Rest of the spices can be added as they are without any preparation.
- Add two teaspoons of black tea leaves.
- Add two teaspoons of the chosen sweetener.
- Stir the mixture properly.
- Strain out all the solid particles to extract a nice tan liquid, which is nothing but chai tea.
Health Benefits & Medicinal Uses
Chai tea is loaded with innumerable medicinal values. Its health benefits have been the talk of town since centuries. A summary on the health benefits and medicinal uses of chai tea is illustrated below:
Depression & Anxiety
Chai tea acts as a revitalizer and hence combats depression skillfully. Its caffeine content makes it an effective reliever of anxiety and depression thereby restoring a sense of energy and vitality in the depression patient.
Due to its easy availability, people who often suffer from mood swings and depression can conveniently use it as a home remedy. Thus, chai tea is popularly known as mood setter. Adding cardamom as a spice to chai tea enhances its ability to reduce the feelings of depression.
Chai tea enhances digestion power and helps eliminating all types of digestive disorders. The spices used in making chai tea prove to be beneficial in this aspect. Ayurveda primarily relies on chai tea for curing problems associated with the digestive system. Each spice in chai tea is specialized in dealing with a particular digestive ailment.
- Ginger has a soothing effect on stomach.
- Cloves and black pepper stimulate digestion process by triggering the secretion of digestive enzymes in pancreas.
- Cinnamon potentially curbs nausea and diarrhea and keeps the stomach calm and cool.
- Long pepper also stimulates digestive secretion, balances gastric juices and aids digestion.
Therefore, chai tea after meals can act as a miraculous digestion booster and can be unanimously used as an alternative to digestion stimulating drugs.
Chai tea is widely known for its anti-inflammatory properties. The spices invariably used in chai tea play significant role in boosting these properties.
According to various medical journals, ginger can be used as an herbal alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs (non-steroidal). It is mostly used in treating inflammations associated with arthritis.
The primary constituent in cloves called eugenol potentially relieves general inflammation. Sources have reported that cinnamon is also armed with anti-inflammatory properties.
Spices present in chai tea helps in strengthening immunity. Both ginger and cardamom are equipped with immunity boosting properties. They boost the immune system and keep the common disease like cold away.
Cancer and cardiovascular diseases
Chai tea is full of powerful antioxidants. Black tea itself is a mighty antioxidant that helps in the prevention of damage done to cells and tissues by free radicals.
Adding spices like ginger, cardamom and black pepper to chai tea significantly increase its anti-oxidation value, which ultimately helps in the treatment of cancer. Ginger protects the body against colorectal cancer and treats ovarian cancer potentially. Cardamom has anti-oxidizing effect on nonmelanoma skin cancer.
It also helps in reducing blood pressure thereby keeping the body away from cardiovascular risks. The active antioxidant present in black pepper called piperine prevents oxidative damage in the cells and tissues.
Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
Chai tea spices such as ginger and cinnamon help in balancing the hormonal disturbances and thus alleviate pain and discomfort closely associated with PMS.
Chai spices contribute to regulation of blood sugar level and thus prevent type 2 diabetes.
Caution & Side Effects
Caffeine in chai tea leads to insomnia, nausea, restlessness and dizziness.
As a caution, one can reduce the consumption of caffeinated chai tea or one can opt for decaffeinated chai tea.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
As chai tea is a blend of various herbs and spices, therefore cautiousness is essential while having it during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Some herbs can lead to hormonal imbalance and several other side effects. You should avoid following herbs and spices in chia tea during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Kava kava
- Cascara Sagrada
- Uva Ursi
You should be extremely cautious while buying a ready to make chai tea from a store because it contains a blend of huge number of herbs. It would be possible that you are not using some of these herbs or spices in your daily life. Some contraindications of chia tea are as follows.
- Allergy to any ingredient present in chia tea
- Heartburn or acidity
- Ulcerative colitis
- Mouth ulcer
These herbs and spices in chia tea can interact with modern medicines. Therefore, consult your doctor before using chia tea or masala tea along with modern medicines.
Some drugs like adenosine for cardiac stress test, cimetidine, quinolone antibiotics, ephedrine, dipyridamole, clozapine, disulfiram, lithium, estrogens, warfarin, birth control pills, stimulant drugs, antidepressants, anti-diabetic drugs and several other drugs have either moderate or close interactions with caffeine in chai tea leading to harmful effects. Therefore, consultation with doctor is mandatory in this case.