The origin of tea as a beverage goes back millennia but the indigenous masala chai – black tea with milk and a mix of spices – can be traced back to the 19th and early 20th centuries. At first, it was travellers of mostly Gujarati and Bengali origin, who had better access to spices and quality milk, that began drinking the concoction. But it was under the British-owned Indian Tea Association that masala chai came into its own. Read about the role Indian Railways played in the tea revolution.
Tea leaves were an expensive commodity in the early 1900s, premium tea is still expensive. Local tea vendors used lower quality tea leaves but added flavourful spices like cardamom and ginger to make their chai tastier. Thus masala chai was born. Today, masala chai has become a staple in Indian households.
Masala Chai Recipe
Unlike other countries, tea in India is more than just tea leaves with water or milk. The mix of spices in the masala chai recipe is what sets it apart from being just another tea.
Click here for the list of ingredients and method details.
Ingredients for Masala Chai Recipe (for two cups):
1/4th tsp of spice mix
Equal portions of milk and water
2 tsp CTC tea leaves
Sugar, as required
Method for Masala Chai Recipe:
1. Bring water and milk to a rolling boil.
2. Reduce heat. Add tea leaves and spice mix.
3. Bring to a boil on medium heat. Add sugar.
4. Strain and serve.
Health Benefits of Masala Chai
Not only do the spices used in the masala chai recipe make your tea tastier but also come with a host of health benefits. Here's a breakdown of the spices that make up the masala of a masala chai recipe and their health benefits:
Cardamom:These tiny green pods pack a flavourful punch but more than that, they’re also packed with health benefits. Rich in dietary fibres, they’re a must-have for those who suffer from constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and intestinal spasms. A single serving will give you your daily dose of manganese too. Cardamom is rich in iron and low in calorie count. It’s a mere 36 calories for a serving of 2 tbsp.
Cinnamon:It has a rich woody flavour that adds a spicy tinge to any food or beverage. Cinnamon also has certain healing properties and helps people with Type 2 diabetes. It has properties that keep your heart healthy along with anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties.
Cloves:This spice lends foods and beverages a sharp flavour and is a staple ingredient in Indian spice mixes. Clove contains eugenol from which we derive several health benefits. Besides helping the body resist toxicity caused by everyday pollutants, it is also anti-inflammatory and contains antioxidants, vitamin C, manganese, magnesium calcium, omega-3 fatty acids and fibre.
Ginger:Adding fresh ginger paste to your chai will help you stave off a cold and soothe your digestion system. It will also protect you against illnesses with its anti-inflammatory properties. Continue reading for the health benefits of ginger and why adrak chai is a good idea.
Black pepper:Packed with antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties, this spicy black kernel also promotes weight loss, skin and stomach health.
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