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What is

masala chai?

Masala (mix of spices) chai (tea) is a spicy and sweet tea that is prepared with milk. It is usually made by the concoction of black tea and spices such as cardamom and ginger –amongst others– in water and milk. It’s the most popular drink in India and it’s common to see Chai Wallahs preparing and serving chai in almost any street and roadside.

Chai has been cherished for centuries in India as a means of improving health and enhancing peace of mind. The warming spices used to make Masala Chai are ground fresh into a blend, originally as Karha—a mixture of spices used in Ayurvedic medicine to heal all kinds of ailments.

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Here’s how chai can improve your health

If you are looking to boost your immune system, drinking chai can help.

Chai is made from spices rich in antioxidants. For example, cardamom has been present in Tibetan medicine for centuries and contains high doses of vitamin C and other nutrients that keep your immune system strong.

Furthermore, it is well known that cloves have antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral activity.

Cortés-Rojas DF, de Souza CR, Oliveira WP. Clove (Syzygium aromaticum): a precious spice. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2014;4(2):90-96. doi:10.1016/S2221-1691(14)60215-X

Studies in animals have shown that cinnamon, one of the main ingredients in chai, can help lower bad cholesterol and lower blood pressure.

Rao PV, Gan SH. Cinnamon: a multifaceted medicinal plant. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:642942. doi:10.1155/2014/642942

Researchers have found that cinnamon also contains oils that may help combat diabetes. These compounds can help to regulate blood sugar levels. Several studies have shown cinnamon to be a potential aid for people living with Type 2 diabetes.

Allen RW, Schwartzman E, Baker WL, Coleman CI, Phung OJ. Cinnamon use in type 2 diabetes: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Fam Med. 2013 Sep-Oct;11(5):452-9. doi: 10.1370/afm.1517. PMID: 24019277; PMCID: PMC3767714.

Just as many other teas, chai is an excellent regulator of the digestive system and it helps to maintain a healthy gut. The spice in chai tea that is largely responsible for digestive health benefits is ginger. Ginger aids digestion by improving circulation and delivering oxygen to organs so they can perform optimally.

Another spice in chai that aids digestion is black pepper, which helps the pancreas produce digestive enzymes. These enzymes work as catalysts to speed up digestive processes that break down fats and proteins. With a more efficient digestive system, you can avoid more severe problems such as liver diseases, iron deficiency and irritable bowel syndrome.

Ginger is well known for its ability to reduce nausea and has been used to treat common ailments such as seasickness or nausea during pregnancy.

The biological compounds of ginger that help to treat nausea are known as gingerol and shogaol. These two compounds have anti-inflammatory properties that work to soothe an upset stomach and alleviate stomach pain associated with nausea.

Viljoen E, Visser J, Koen N, Musekiwa A. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-associated nausea and vomiting. Nutr J. 2014;13:20. Published 2014 Mar 19. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-20

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