Author Aly Dort / Category Lifestyle / Published: August 2019
Baby, It’s Cold Outside!
There’s something really alluring about a hot beverage once the mornings grow cold. It may be tempting to reach for a cup of coffee when it’s still dark at 7 am, but you might consider switching to Chai tea instead. The caffeinated kind, that is! Sure, chai tea contains slightly less caffeine than coffee, but the benefits of switching to a functional tea like chai are aplenty.
Because black tea generally contains higher caffeine levels than say, a white tea, it could also help you to decrease your daily caffeine intake by virtue alone.
We recently discussed key differences between both green and black tea and highlighted some of the great benefits of winter spices, but here is the TLDR;
The spices found in Chai tea have been used for thousands of years to promote general health and wellbeing. If we look to Ayurveda, an ancient medicinal practice stemming from India, we see these spices revered for their calming and vitalizing properties. This is otherwise known as “Sattvic”. Sattvic foods and ingredients are said to nourish the body without taxing the digestive tract.
Each of the ingredients found in this functional tea is intentional and has a kaleidoscope of benefits, including high levels of antioxidants. While the ingredients found in your chai tea can vary, they typically contain cinnamon, cardamom, clove, black pepper, nutmeg, Chinese star anise, ginger and fennel.
Cinnamon is actually a pretty powerful spice that’s loaded with antioxidants. I was surprised to learn that cinnamon’s antioxidant activity actually outranks foods like garlic! Cinnamon also has anti-inflammatory properties and is said to improve circulation. I don’t know about you, but poor circulation and inflammation are two things that make winters far more difficult for me.
Studies have also found that cinnamon could improve your sensitivity to insulin, lower blood sugar levels and has been shown to have anti-microbial effects.
It’s worth noting that our Chai Love You blend uses true or “ceylon” cinnamon. Many tease uses a type of cinnamon called “cassia”, which is what you’ll often find in the supermarket. There’s nothing wrong with cassia cinnamon, but it’s not recommended to consume in larger doses because of its coumarin content.
Cardamom is a popular spice in both Indian and Chinese preparations and is said to benefit the lungs, help lower blood pressure and even help fight infections like Candida and Staphylococcus (the bacteria that can cause food poisoning).
Like pepper and ginger, clove is used to synergistically increase the potency of other herbal blends (like how pepper helped to increase the bioavailability of turmeric), but it also packs a mighty cornucopia of benefits on its own! Cloves have pain-relieving properties thanks to its eugenol content and have antimicrobial properties that can help fight infection.
Cloves may be little, but they are flush with antioxidants and surprisingly, just 1 tsp of cloves provide a whopping 30% of your daily recommended intake of Maganese: a mineral that’s extremely important for bone density and health.
Used widely to support better circulation and metabolism, black pepper can help our bodies to stay warm. It’s often used to help increase the absorption of important nutrients, but black pepper has also been shown to improve brain function and memory!
Chinese Star Anise
Traditional Asian herbalists credit star anise with a variety of benefits. It’s frequently used as a cough remedy and to help freshen breath, which is why you’ll often find it in the ingredients of natural gums and mints. It’s widely used as an ingredient in functional tea blends targeting digestion, cold and flu. Research on Star Anise has also determined that it may help to treat mild to moderate Depression and alleviate the symptoms of postpartum depression as well!
Fennel helps to counteract the heat of other spices found in your Chai tea, though it also contains anti-inflammatory properties and nutrients like magnesium and potassium. Fennel can also help promote an increase in prolactin for breastfeeding parents and is often used to help freshen breath.
Not All Chai Is Alike
To reap maximum benefits from this functional tea, you’ll want to make sure you’re drinking the real thing! Chai Tea Lattes are great, but unfortunately, many of them don’t use real chai tea blends to create your drink. You’re better off making one at home instead. This leaves you room to be creative with your drink, add in a touch of vanilla or maple syrup if you need, or even use your tea in your favourite cookie or pancake recipe!
Why not try our Maple Sugar Shack Pancake Recipe and sub the tea out for our Chai Love You blend?
Aly Dort is a freelance illustrator and stationery designer living in Halifax, N.S. She is passionate about mental health, social sustainability and empowering those around her.