Originated from India, chai tea is a rich, spicy, aromatic drink made from some of the most medicinally active spices and herbs. There are various chai tea recipes but classic chai is a blend of black tea, clove, cardamom, black pepper and ginger. The benefits of chai tea have been utilized in India to increase peace of mind and health. Additionally, the benefits of chai include antioxidant properties, improved digestion, heightened immune system and fighting off inflammation.
Because chai tea is wildly popular in South Asia and India, every region has its own version of chai. If you visit India, you’ll see different shops where they create unique versions of the tea. But nevertheless, classic chai tea consists of at least a number of the standard ingredients which do promote health.
Black tea comes from the leaves of Camellia sinensis; the plant that provides us white, green and oolong tea. It is rich in powerful antioxidants as well having low levels of caffeine. Black tea is the base ingredient of chai. It is a healthy drink which adds to the benefits of chai tea.
Antioxidants. This is probably the most known benefit of black tea. Thearubigins, epicatechins, and catechins are the most common antioxidants found in black tea. These flavonoids possess anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer fighting properties that help protect the cells from DNA damage and free radicals.
Reduces the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. In a study comparing the effects of tea and coffee in rheumatoid arthritis, it has been found that coffee increases the risk of developing arthritis while tea consumption reverses its onset. Even decaffeinated coffee intake is positively associated to rheumatoid arthritis.
Lowers the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. In a study, black tea has been found to significantly lower plasma glucose concentration after a couple of hours, compared to participants who drank caffeine drinks or water. Black tea increases insulin levels as well. The study associated black tea’s diabetic benefits to naturally occurring antioxidants or polyphenols. These compounds are believed to stimulate B-cells – the pancreatic cells that trigger insulin production – to release more insulin in the body.
Promotes heart health. Black tea is believed to prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol), which helps lower the risk of heart disease.
Ginger is a root that has been found to possess benefits for the aiding in the digestive and immune systems. It has a spicy and peppery taste. Also the age-old herb has been used as a spice and for medical remedies. Ginger's role in the benefits of chai tea as a natural painkiller.
Antioxidants. Ginger is full of potent antioxidant properties like gingerol acting as the most active substance. Based on a study, it is the root that has the highest amount of compounds, even more than a turnip, carrots or beets. Because of its potent antioxidant action, it has been found to inhibit oxidative damage and inflammation.
Helps heal swelling, pain and inflammation. Ginger is particularly beneficial for people with arthritis as well as for women suffering dysmenorrhea or painful menstruation. In a study comparing the effectiveness of ginger to common painkillers, it has been found that ginger was just as effective as Mefenamic Acid 250mg and Ibuprofen 400mg.
Effective remedy for nausea and vomiting. Ginger helps eliminate gas and speed up gastric emptying to relieve nausea and vomiting. It has been shown to be more effective than certain medications to aide in motion sickness.
Cinnamon is a powerful spice widely used for its medicinal properties all over the world for centuries. It is still used today in many cultures due to its distinct warming sensation and sweet taste. The good thing about cinnamon is that you don’t need to take much of it to have its health effects. little goes a long way, which is why it adds to the benefits of chai tea.
Overflowing with protective antioxidants. Based on a research comparing 26 popular herbs and spices regarding protective antioxidant levels, cinnamon tops the list. The health benefits of cinnamon come from the bark, which contain a number of unique compounds, including cinnamic acid, cinnamaldehyde and cinnamate.
Anti-inflammatory effect. Several compounds found in cinnamon have been found to have significant anti-inflammatory effect.
Fight viruses and infections. Cinnamon has natural antibiotic, antiviral, anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties. Such immune-boosting action of cinnamon can be found in its essential oils. Many cultures use cinnamon to help fight off bacteria that cause symptoms in the skin, digestive and respiratory tract.
Cardamom comes from a tiny pod with black seeds. Both the pod and the seeds, help add as benefits of chai tea, provide a pleasant flavor and aroma. Hence, cardamom is often used as flavoring for many Indian recipes. It is not only used in hot and spicy dishes but the seeds are also used for desserts and drinks to complement the sweet flavor.
Lowers blood pressure. A study has found that people with high blood pressure who consume 3 grams of cardamom for 3 months reported a significant reduction in diastolic, systolic and average blood pressure.
Support healthy digestion. A study found that cardamom was able to inhibit digestion, during diarrhea, and stimulate the gut during constipation. This means that cardamom contribute in restoring balance of gut to relieve common digestive issues.
Anti-cancer properties. Cancer, specifically colon cancer, is one of the most common cases of cancer around the world. In a study from Chittaranhan National Cancer Institute in Kolkata, it has been shown that consumption of cardamom has a positive result in fighting colorectal cancer by up to 48 percent. Cardamom may also be beneficial in treating and preventing skin cancer. Test showed that it was able to shrink the size and number of skin papilloma.
Clove is a powerful spice known for its uniquely warm, aromatic and sweet taste it adds to pumpkin pie and ginger bread, in addition in bean soups, chili and baked beans. Using clove in your chai tea offers a sweet and pleasant flavor. Cloves are the unopened flower buds from the clove tree. They are handpicked when they’re pink and dried until they turn brown.
Clove is rich in eugenol, a phenol that is subject to many health studies. In the US, the cemical eugenol in clove have been used in dentistry as a mild anesthetic and as an anti-bacterial agent. Because of these effects, clove oil can be found in some over-the-counter mouth washes and sore throat sprays.
Anti-microbial properties. Clove has been found to have potent antiviral benefits fighting against Herpes Simplex.
Analgesic effect. Clove’s unique component eugenol can help reduce pain in cases such as in the joints, spasms and toothaches.
Black pepper contains a powerful compound called piperine, which is responsible for such health benefits like antioxidant effects, digestive support and anti-hypertensive properties.
Helps reduce hypertension. Several studies have found the positive effect of piperine in helping in lowering blood pressure.
Improves digestion. When ingesting black pepper, it stimulates the taste buds sending a signal to brain to increase hydrochloric acid secretion in the stomach and thereby, enhancing digestive process. When there is insufficient production of hydrochloric acid in the body, food remains in the stomach for long periods of time, causing indigestion or heartburn.
Star anise contains a compound called Anethole that possesses many health benefits. Adding star anise increases the benefits of chai tea because it provides an antimicrobial boost, which can be beneficial if you are sick.
Anti-microbial action. Star anise has been shown to have potent antimicrobial properties. Studies have found that its antimicrobial property is due to the Anethole found in the dried fruit. Research indicated that it is effective against yeast and fungal strains as well as bacteria.
Effective against inflammation. A study has shown that Anethole was able to reduce the inflammation present in acute lung injury.
Effective against flu. Star anise is rich in shikimic acid, a compound only found in plants and is a precursor to oseltamivir, an antiviral drug better known as Tamiflu. While Shikimic acid can also be found in sweetgum fruit and ginkgo, Star Anise has far greater concentration than the two.
Sweet and aromatic, nutmeg is one of the highly prized spices since antiquity for its curative, aphrodisiac and aromatic properties. Nutmeg contains plenty of plant-derived chemical compounds known to have disease-preventing, health promoting and antioxidant properties.
Reduce neuropathic pain. A study has found that nutmeg can significantly lower neuropathic pain in patients with diabetes.
Antidepressant effect. A study has found the extracting of nutmeg possesses antidepressant-like effects in rats by influencing the brain in regulating serotonin and dopamine.
Anti-cancer properties. A study has been shown that nutmeg inhibits the growth of colon cancer tumors by acting on inflammatory substances.
The benefits of chai tea are the result of the active and essential ingredients that are used to make the beverage. With the surprising health benefits of each ingredient of chai tea, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be drinking Chai often. Whether you make the tea at home or buy it in a store, the benefits of chai tea will increase your health.