Hot Masala Chai On Cold Winter Nights
I am not a very winter or Autumn kinda person. It makes me lazy, lethargic and kind of down. Given a choice, I would simply love a duvet day with only a hot cuppa spicy masala chai and buttered toast for company !!
BBbbrrrrrr reality…. packed lunches, breakfasts, school runs, work, grocery shopping, appointments to keep, cooking and the list goes on…. But let’s just take a short pause and treat ourselves with something that is energizing, satisfying and warming; in short a hot cup of Indian Masala chai or Indian spiced tea.
Apart from snuggling to my kiddos, it’s also comforting to wrap hands around a hot cup of Masala chai and inhaling the warmth and freshness of spices.
Is it Masala Chai or Masala Chai Tea?
My first experience of coming across the term ‘Chai Tea’ was looking at the Starbucks menu board and staring at something that was both intriguing and amusing. It read ‘Chai Tea Latte’, which interestingly use 3 languages to describe a cup of Tea. ‘Chai’ is a Hindi (Indian language) word meaning ‘Tea’, ‘Tea’ as we all know is an English word, while ‘Latte’ is Italian for milk.
So the literal translation of ‘Chai Tea Latte’ is ‘Tea Tea Milk’!
That was enough to put me off trying something that perhaps even the makers did not know what it really was! But one has to acknowledge the global reach and commercial acclaim a humble cup of regional tea has gained!
So to answer the question, Masala Chai Tea translates to Spicy Tea which originates from the Indian Subcontinent.
Benefits of Drinking Masala Tea
I do not have a scientific theory to back the understated benefits of drinking Masala chai, but I speak from personal experience of years of drinking Masala chai especially when I feel a cold coming or need a boost to slacking energy.
You will find many websites stating benefits of drinking Masala Chai but the once written here are those I have personally felt. In a nutshell I can put down 5 benefits of drinking masala chai:
1. Anti inflammatory:
Most spices used to make masala chai not only have their individual health benefits but they work in synergy to help your body combat inflammation. The main Anti-inflammatory ingredients being ginger and cloves which also help in reducing pain. ( remember how clove oil helps reduce toothache?)
2. Beats fatigue:
We all know that tea contains caffeine which is a stimulant, and what we reach for when we need to energise a tired mind and body. The tannins present in tea help calm the body and revitalize it.
Adding uplifting spices such as green cardamons and cinnamon to a stimulant like caffeine acts as the best way to drive away fatigue.
3. Fights cold and flu:
Most spices especially those used in making chai tea are believed to strengthen the immune system and keep common infections at bay.
The immunity-boosting and body warming effects of clove, cinnamon, green cardamom, and ginger make masala chai a great way to keep coughs and colds at bay.
4. Relieves PMS:
When it comes to that time of the month and you need something to fight the annoying PMS, tea is your go to buddy.
The painkiller spices such as clove, cardamon, and cinnamon help deal with period pains by relaxing the muscles and keep your nerves calm.
5. Boosts metabolism:
The caffeine present in tea leaves promotes lipolysis that is the process of breaking down stored fat and stimulates cycles that metabolize fats. According to Ayurveda Tea leaves are known as a heat generating substance and therefore helps speed up your metabolism.
So pick up a cup of this hot delectable medicinal drink to keep those extra inches off but do remember to stay clear from sugar!
Many Different Masala Chai Recipes
As most Indian dishes there is no set recipe for making masala chai. Few household use as many as 8 – 9 different spices, while few such as me like to keep spices to a minimum as I personally like to get the subtle taste of spice rather than having a hot spicy milky curry in a cup!
There are different spices that go into a making Masala Chai. I have listed the most commonly used chai spices below.
You can start making your own recipe by choosing 1 to 3 different spices at a time or more if you prefer and finally get to your most favorite chai spice mix.
The one thing that is constant in most chai recipes is the use of fresh ginger, green cardamom, and milk. Here are the spice choices:
Sharing with you a Masala chai recipe I found on the internet also known as Yogi Tea due to its relation with Ayurveda.
Tips for Making Masala Chai
The method of making Masala chai is similar however one can easily alter the proportion, spices, sugar type and boiling time as per your own liking.
Spicy masala chai originates from Northern India, where they like to make their tea spicy, sweet and very milky. But this recipe can be easily adapted to suit your personal preference.
Here are few tips and alternatives for you to make your cuppa Indian spiced tea:
Use of Spices:
- Choose from any of the spices listed above. Gently crush or break the spices to release the oils before adding to boiling water.
- Spice proportion for making one cup of tea – Use only 1 of each spice for making 1 cup of tea. 1/2 inch or less of cinnamon stick and ginger. Half teaspoon for whole seeds spices or powdered spices.
Water and Milk ratio:
- Always add a little more than 1 cup of water for making one cup of tea since the spices need time to boil in water.
- If you like your tea milky then use 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup milk and boil till it reduces to 1 cup
- For a lighter version – add 1/4 cup milk at the end and let it warm up in boiling water before pouring out.
- Indian Masala Chai is normally sweet but you can choose to have it without sugar
- Healthy substitute for sugar are Palm sugar, jaggery and honey.
Best Tea Leaves
- The Indian spice tea is made using loose black tea leaves. You can buy them from any Indian store if you have access to one.
- Any black tea bags such as English breakfast, Yorkshire tea, Lipton Yellow label also work well.
Now that you have the tips and different ways of making Masala Chai. Here is my personal favorite recipe for an energy boosting, comforting cuppa Masala Chai (Tea).
- Black Tea Leaves - 4 tsp
- Water - 4 1/2 cup
- Milk - 1/2 cup
- Ginger - 1 inch
- Green Cardamon - 3 pods
- Fennel seeds - 2 tsps
- Mint leaves - 5
- Palm sugar - 2 tsp (optional)
- In a mortal and pestle lightly crush the ginger, green cardamons and fennel seeds and set aside.
- Put 4 1/2 cups water in a deep bottomed pan.
- Just before the water starts to boil add tea leaves and the spices to it.
- When it come to a full boil add the mint leaves and bring it to simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add milk and continue to boil for another 1 - 2 minutes.
- Add some extra milk in small portions if you think the colour is too dark.
- Add sugar and stir it in well.
- Remove from heat, strain tea through a strainer and serve hot.