Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the United States after water. More than 80% of that is black tea and more than 40% of tea drinkers consume tea as an evening beverage. Chai is a very popular option across American cafes. We love our morning lattes and drinks so much that a frequent conversation about nutrition in the U.S. centers around whether or not they are actually healthy for us. While many of us make our coffee at home but did you know that you can also make your own chai tea? You will be surprised by how easy the recipe. You will be making it all the time when when you learn about these chai tea latte benefits!
The first thing to keep in mind about chai is that it is full of powerful healing herbs. Many of the ingredients included in this recipe are classified as carminative herbs. The most common carminative spices are: anise, caraway, cinnamon bark, fennel, marjoram, peppermint, star anise, savory, mint & thyme.
These spices can do so much for our health. Some healing properties of these herbs include: antiviral, antifungal, anticancer, antibacterial and antimicrobial. They contain powerful phytonutrients that can manage and reduce inflammation as well as digestive health problems like: intestinal spasms, pain and flatulence. Chai tea can help to relax digestive muscles and sphincters, allowing them to reduce abdominal pain and improve the function of the digestive tract.
These benefits can be helpful in many different conditions like chronic pain, GERD or IBS. The organic compounds that come from these herbs infuse into the tea as essential oils which can inhibit the growth and fermentation of flatulent promoting bacteria.
In addition, the nutrient density of these herbs can encourage the production and secretion of digestive enzymes which are typically depleted in those who experience chronic digestive health problems. However, there are many other benefits to drinking chai tea like improved blood sugar regulation, hormone balancing (promote lactation for breast-feeding mothers, promote menstruation in irregular periods), detoxification and boosted energy.
As someone who has had irregular digestive and hormonal health most of my life, I remain symptom free most of the time by consuming a cup of chai several days out of the week. Chai is one meal prep staple that I can make quickly and easily without feeling the time pressure of meal prepping. It only takes 5 minutes of actual prep time.
One caveat to making chai that you want to keep in mind is that it is made with black tea, which is dehydrating. If you want to avoid adding caffeine, I recommend using a decaffeinated black tea and steeping it lightly towards the end of the infusion. I typically will use a decaf vanilla bean black tea to save money on the cost of vanilla bean powder or pods. I would not recommend using vanilla extract because you do not want to introduce the alcohol into the mixture: this can ruin the flavor and you do not receive the same anti-anxiety/anti-stress properties that a fresh vanilla infusion has to offer.
I will typically include additional herbs that are specific to my health needs. I pay particular attention to what kind of herbs I choose and when they need to be added to the recipe. Read through the directions carefully to know when to add the different ingredients.
You want to add certain herbs before the water boils, and others you want to heat gently after you turn the water off. It is important to add different ingredients at different temperatures because certain plant material can be damaged in high heat, resulting in a lower yield of their medicinal properties. Other herbal infusions require boiling water to even extract their properties. The trick to understanding this is to pay attention to the texture and structure of the ingredients you choose. Roots, barks and roughage need higher heat while flowers, stems, and leaves need a gentler heat to bring out the chai tea latte benefits.
Chai Tea Latte
- 1 quart water
- 1 large cinnamon stick
- 2 whole star anise
- 1 Tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp whole all spice
- 1 inch chunk fresh ginger and/or turmeric
- 1 tsp whole cloves
- 1 tsp whole cardamom pods
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tsp dandelion root
- 1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder, 1 vanilla bean pod
- 2 black tea bags (decaf optional, use vanilla black tea if you do not have these vanilla options)
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 1 tsp cashew butter
- 10 oz water
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- pinch salt
- In a small pot, add cinnamon, anise, black pepper, all spice, ginger, turmeric, cloves and cardamom to 1 quart of water.
- Turn your stove to high heat and bring it to a full rolling boil uncovered. As soon as the boil begins to roll, turn the heat off, and immediately add fennel seeds, dandelion root, vanilla bean and tea bags.
- Once the remaining ingredients are in, cover it completely and let it rest for at least 15 minutes, up to 10 minutes longer if you want the tea to be slightly stronger.
- While the ingredients are steeping, add your cashews, maple syrup, cashew butter, water, and salt to a high powdered blender. Blend on high for 2 minutes or until it is a smooth, creamy consistency. No straining needed.
- Serve hot or over ice. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Platel, K. and Srinivasan, K., (2004). Digestive stimulant action of spices: A myth or reality? Indian Journal of Medical Research. 119, 167-179.
Teuscher. E.(2006). Medicinal spices: a handbook of culinary herbs, spices, spice mixtures and their essential oils. Stuttgart: Medpharm