We hate to ruin this for you, but you need the truth: when you say “chai tea,” you are actually saying “tea tea.”
As it turns out, "chai” actually means "tea" in Hindi. But the warm, spicy, fall-like "chai" you know and love popularized is so much more than just plain tea. The common usage of the word “chai” actually refers to a mix of spices blended into a tea-like beverage, and the correct term for it is "masala chai". Masala chai, which means "spiced tea," is steeped in legends of monarchy and herbal medicine.
With its popularity, masala chai is now available everywhere you look. But authentic and high-grade quality masala chai is harder to find.
This article will cover all you need to know about masala chai, including its history, its benefits, and how to make masala chai using Mosi Tea's Garden-picked masala chai, plus how to make masala chai with your own tea and spices at home.
History of Masala Chai
The origins of masala chai can be traced back hundreds of years to an ancient royal court. So yes, if you're sipping chai lattes, you do indeed have something in common with the royals.
Masala chai dates from the British occupation of India in the 19th century. Originally, masala chai was made with black tea and a variety of spices, and it was prepared either hot or cold to treat minor illnesses.
Even before India was occupied by the British colony, Indians were accustomed to boiling spices and herbs in water for medical brews that could be used to treat illnesses and provide other health benefits. During the British occupation of India in 1858, the British colony constructed tea fields in Assam, India, where they produced high-quality black teas that became a primary export. Originally, tea was primarily an export and was too expensive for most Indians.
But in the early 1900s, the British-owned Indian Tea Association began promoting Indian tea consumption in India. Due to the high expense of most black teas, sellers still used milk, sugar, and spices to mask the flavor of a lower quality, cheaper tea.
After a few years, the famous East India Company established a tea plantation method, which helped to expand the tea supply region and made it more affordable for the average consumer -- but the process of adding milk, sugar and whole spices to the tea stuck around.
Masala chai grew in popularity in India during the 1960s, when a mechanical method of tea production made black tea more affordable to the general public. Since then, masala chai's popularity has continued to grow.
What Is Masala Chai?
Originating in India, masala chai is a black tea drink made by brewing black tea with a blend of aromatic herbs and spices. The masala chai ingredients are simple, but the spices used in each version can differ. The spices used in an authentic masala chai in India include:
- Green Cardamom
- Black pepper
Other spices are used in other masala chai versions. Especially after many years of evolution, there are modern twists and numerous spices that can be used in a great masala chai. The proportions can simply be changed to suit your preferences. Depending on your style and taste, other masala tea variations can include:
- Star anise
- Holy Basil
Masala Chai Health Benefits
Masala chai was created with Ayurvedic principles in mind -- aka, traditional medicine that practices healing through herbs and spices. So beyond being royally delicious, this beverage can be considered an ancient superfood.
Here are some of the health benefits of masala chai:
Because it contains cinnamon and clove, masala chai is excellent for the immune system. The therapeutic effects of the two warm spices are enhanced when they are used together. Their complementary roles provide a barrier that prevents infections from weakening the immune system. Masala chai also contains essential nutrients and minerals for a healthy, immune-boosted body such as:
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin C
Among the spices in chai masala is fresh ginger. Ginger is known for its incredible anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its wealth of antioxidants and anti-bacterial properties.
Clove is also known to lower inflammation and is often used as a pain reliever. Additionally, clove and ginger prevent plaque from forming in your blood vessels and improve heart blood flow.
Helps with Digestion
Drinking masala chai can aid digestion and relieve stomach discomfort. Spices like clove, green cardamom, and ginger in masala chai are known to aid digestion and help ease any tummy troubles. Ginger in particular is known to be a digestive superpower by assisting in oxygen delivery to organs for optimal performance. It also helps reduce nausea thanks to biological compounds gingerol and shogaol, which have anti-inflammatory properties.
Increases Energy Levels
Black tea, which does contain caffeine, is the main ingredient in all forms of masala tea. Unlike coffee, however, the caffeine level is relatively low -- meaning you'll get a boost of energy without as much of a crash later on.
Improve Heart Health
One of the main ingredients in masala tea, cinnamon, can help to decrease blood pressure. Additionally, several studies have also suggested that the black tea used to produce masala tea may help lower cholesterol levels in the blood. Furthermore, consuming three or more cups of black tea every day appears to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Ginger and cinnamon are two ingredients in masala chai that may help lower blood sugar levels. Cinnamon may help your body use insulin to transport sugar from your bloodstream to your cells, reducing insulin resistance.
Controls Blood Pressure
Masala chai can also aid in the treatment of blood pressure issues. The cardamom and clove help to keep blood pressure and heart rate in check. It has a blood-dilating effect that will aid in the treatment of medical problems caused by high blood pressure.
Masala chai aids in the regulation of blood circulation in the body, preventing fluctuations in blood pressure levels.
Masala chai aids digestion, and as your digestion improves, so does your metabolism. Masala chai's ability to generate heat aids in the acceleration of your metabolism.
The cinnamon in masala chai helps to keep blood sugar levels in check, which is important for reducing weight and maintaining a healthy weight. Masala chai is known to effectively metabolize glucose and carbs.
Reduces Menstrual Cramps
The spices in masala chai work together to relax muscles, calm nerves, and improve mood. This can be especially helpful during a menstrual cycle, helping to relieve cramps, tiredness, anxiety, and bloating.
Help Prevent Cancer
Antioxidants including catechins and theaflavins are abundant in chai masala tea. These reduce oxidative stress and may help to prevent cancer and other diseases. Cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom also may help fight cancer because of their immune-boosting properties.
How To Make Authentic Masala Chai
You may be familiar with chai masala powder, which can easily be found in grocery stores as a mix-in to make an instant chai tea latte. While this is an option, a tea powder will often contain added sugar and powdered milk -- which makes for an easy latte, but is not an authentic chai masala.
To make a delicious cup of chai masala, we recommend a base of quality black tea. While you can use tea bags, loose leaf tea will brew a much more full-bodied tea. Assam tea is typically used, but other black teas can substitute as well.
You can either brew your loose leaf tea or tea bags first and then add the spices listed in the recipe below, or you can use Mosi's Masala Chai, which is a loose leaf tea blend already spiced to perfection.
Mosi's Masala Chai
Mosi's Masala Chai loose leaf blend pairs garden-picked Assam black tea leaves are with authentic spices: cinnamon, clove, black pepper, ginger and cardamom. The Assam tea base and all of our spices are sourced straight from India, and brew a warm, spicy, lightly sweet brew of masala chai tea.
Here's how you can make Mosi's masala chai at home:
- Fill the mini sieve of your Mosi portable infuser with 2g (about a teaspoon) of loose leaf Masala Chai
- Boil 8 oz of water
- Pour your water into the spout of your infuser
- Switch up the lock and flip upside down
- Steep for 4-5 minutes
- Add milk and/or your sweetener of liking, and enjoy!
With the fast and easy steps using Mosi’s masala chai, you'll enjoy the aroma and flavor, and take advantage of the health benefits of authentic masala chai. You can brew it straight up for a spicier take, or the more mellow way with simmered milk, honey, and water.
At-Home Masala Chai Recipe
If you'd like to experiment with making your own Indian Masala Chai at home, you'll need the following four components:
- Assam black tea leaves
- Whole spices
For a truly authentic masala chai experience, we recommend using cinnamon, cloves, fresh ginger, cardamom and black pepper -- but you can experiment with other whole spices to your liking. Here is a simple masala chai recipe:
- Step 1: Lightly crush whole spices using a mortar and pestle.
- Step 2: Heat 2 cups of water in a pot.
- Step 3: Add the spices to the pot together with the black tea.
- Step 4: Boil for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Step 6: Strain the masala chai and pour it into your favorite mug.
- Step 7: Add sweetener.
- Step 8: Add your milk of choice.
Though originally an Indian delicacy, nowadays, Masala chai is made all over the world. Try a Masala chai recipe today to experience a ton of health benefits, cozy up, or pay tribute to some really, really old royalty. Whatever your reason, we guarantee this ancient bev will brighten your day.