You may have noticed that many coffee chains sell chai tea. Introduced to the United States during the 1940s in Indian restaurants, chai tea began in India at least 5,000 years ago. Unlike black or green tea, chai tea does not refer to a specific type of tea but how you prepare it. Because of the antioxidants in tea and the additional healthy spices in chai tea, this beverage has many potential health benefits.
Chai tea has different ingredients and spices. In India, many families have their own recipes for chai tea. Make chai tea with any type of tea -- black, green or oolong. Many chai tea recipes include black tea. Some spices are found in nearly all chai tea recipes. These spices include black pepper, cinnamon, fennel, ginger and cloves. Once you brew your tea with the various spices, you can add milk and honey. The milk provides a creamy texture to the tea and the honey helps balance the diverse spices.
Tea has different antioxidants, including polyphenols and catechins. Although all types of tea contain these essential antioxidants, green tea has higher concentrations of catechins than black tea. Antioxidants, such as catechins, work to protect the cells from free radical damage. The polyphenols in tea also help to inhibit tumor growth in some animal and laboratory studies, according to the National Cancer Institute. The antioxidants may work to protect against the damage from ultraviolet rays and improve immune function.
Many of the spices that are in chai tea can improve digestion. Black pepper can help to stimulate the digestive system. The pepper tells your stomach to secrete hydrochloric acid, which aids in digestion. Cloves contain antibacterial properties and may help prevent certain digestive tract cancers. Ginger is one of the most common home remedies to treat a variety of gastrointestinal distresses. Ginger can help prevent gas and relieve nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness or pregnancy.
Other Health Benefits
The spices found in chai tea can offer other health benefits. Ginger and cloves contain anti-inflammatory properties and may be useful in relieving joint pain. Black pepper can help to fuel the breakdown of fat cells, helping you to lose weight. Cinnamon can help to lower blood sugar and cholesterol in people with Type 2 diabetes, lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and boost mental alertness. If you use green tea when making chai tea, you could help to boost your metabolism and lower your cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels.
- Pacific College of Oriental Medicine: Chai Tea for Digestion
- National Cancer Institute: Tea and Cancer Prevention Strength and Limits of the Evidence
- University of Kentucky: Spice up your Immune System!
- Women’s Health: Cinnamon’s Health Benefits
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Green Tea
- Arzoo Magazine: The History of Chai
- NA/AbleStock.com/Getty Images