How chai tea can improve your health

In many parts of the world, "chai" is simply the word for tea.

However, in the western world, the word chai has become synonymous with a type of aromatic and spicy Indian tea, better known as masala chai.

In addition, this beverage can have benefits for heart health, digestion, control of blood sugar levels and more.

This article explains what you need to know about chai tea and its possible benefits.

What is chai tea?

Chai tea is a sweet and spicy tea known for its fragrant aroma.

Depending on where you come from, you can recognize it as masala chai. However, for clarity, this article will use the term "tea chai" throughout.

Chai tea is made from a combination of black tea, ginger and other spices. The most popular spices include cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, black pepper and cloves, although star anise, coriander seeds and peppercorns are other popular choices.

Unlike regular tea, which is made with water, chai tea is traditionally made with warm water and warm milk. It also tends to sweeten to varying degrees.

Chai lattes are another popular way to consume tea. People manufacture them by adding an injection of chai tea concentrate to the steamed milk, which produces a drink that contains more milk than is found in a typical cup of chai tea.

Chai tea can be purchased in most cafes, but it is also easy to make at home, either from scratch, pre-mixed tea bags or a store-bought concentrate.

In addition, chai tea has been linked to a variety of health benefits.

Summary: Chai tea is a traditional Indian tea, made with a mixture of black tea, ginger and other spices. It can be consumed in several ways and can provide a variety of health benefits.

It can help improve the health of the heart

There is evidence that chai tea can be good for your heart's health.

Studies in animals have shown that cinnamon, one of the main ingredients of chai tea, can lower blood pressure (1, 2).

In some people, it has been shown that cinnamon helps reduce the levels of total cholesterol, "bad" LDL cholesterol and triglycerides by up to 30% (3).

Most studies used doses of 1 to 6 grams of cinnamon per day, which is generally more than you would find in a typical cup of chai tea.

However, a recent review reported that doses as low as 120 mg per day may be sufficient to offer these heart-healthy effects (2).

Several studies also suggest that black tea used to make chai tea may contribute to lower blood cholesterol levels (4, 5).

Most research has observed that drinking four or more cups of black tea per day can slightly reduce blood pressure levels. In addition, drinking three or more cups of black tea per day seems to be related to a 11% lower risk of heart disease (6, 7).

However, not all studies are unanimous and none has investigated the direct effect of chai tea on heart health. Therefore, more research is needed before solid conclusions can be drawn (8).

Summary: Chai tea contains cinnamon and black tea, which can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. However, studies that directly investigate the effects of chai tea are needed.

Chai tea can reduce blood sugar levels

Chai tea can contribute to better control of blood sugar.

This is because it contains ginger and cinnamon, which can have beneficial effects on blood sugar levels.

For example, studies show that cinnamon can reduce insulin resistance and fasting blood sugar levels by 10-29% (9, 10, 11, 12).

Reduced insulin resistance makes it easier for your body to use insulin to escort your blood sugar to your cells. This can help lower blood sugar levels.

A recent study provided two grams of powdered ginger per day to people with type 2 diabetes and found that it helped reduce their blood sugar levels by up to 12% (13).

Studies report that effective doses of ginger and cinnamon tend to vary from 1 to 6 grams per day. Such doses are more than what you can expect to get from chai tea bags bought in the store, or from a cup prepared by your local barista.

To get the most benefits, try to prepare the tea yourself from scratch. That way, you can add a little more cinnamon and ginger than most recipes require.

It is also important to note that, unlike homemade chai tea, the varieties that are prepared in the coffees are usually very sweetened, which would probably nullify the benefits of lowering the blood sugar of the other tea ingredients. chai

In fact, a 12-ounce non-fat milk shake latte (360 ml) at Starbucks contains more than 35 grams of sugar, and about two-thirds of that comes from added sugar (14, 15).

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that women keep their added sugar intake below 25 grams per day, and men keep it below 38 grams per day. This latte could only maximize that limit (16).

To get the best results in reducing blood sugar, opt for a sugar-free version.

Summary: The cinnamon and ginger found in chai tea can help increase insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. However, it is best to avoid the very sweetened varieties purchased in the store.

It can reduce nausea and improve digestion

Chai tea contains ginger, which is well known for its anti-nausea effects (17, 18).

Ginger seems especially effective in reducing nausea during pregnancy. In fact, a review of studies conducted on a total of 1,278 pregnant women found that a daily dose of 1.1 to 1.5 grams of ginger significantly reduced nausea (19).

This is about the amount of ginger you expect to have in a cup of chai.

Chai tea also contains cinnamon, clove and cardamom, all of which have antibacterial properties that seem to help prevent digestive problems caused by bacterial infections (20, 21, 22, 23).

Black pepper, another ingredient found in chai tea, appears to have similar antibacterial properties (18, 24).

In addition, studies in animals report that black pepper can increase the levels of digestive enzymes needed to properly break down food and promote optimal digestion (25).

However, the amount of pepper used in these studies in animals was up to five times higher than the average amount consumed by humans. Therefore, more studies are needed before solid conclusions can be drawn.

Summary: The ingredients of chai tea, ginger, black pepper, cinnamon and cloves can help reduce nausea, prevent bacterial infections and promote proper digestion.

It can help you lose weight

Chai tea can help prevent weight gain and promote fat loss in several ways.

First, chai tea is usually made with cow's milk or soy milk, which are good sources of protein.

Protein is a nutrient known to help reduce hunger and promote feelings of fullness.

Therefore, it is likely that chai tea is more effective than other types of tea to reduce hunger and prevent you from overeating during the day. You may even find it useful as a snack (26, 27, 28, 29).

The research also shows that compounds found in the type of black tea used to make chai can promote the breakdown of fats and help reduce the amount of calories the body absorbs from food (30).

In addition, a high-quality study reported that drinking three cups of black tea per day can help prevent unwanted weight gain or increased abdominal fat (8).

However, it is worth noting that these effects are still small and seem to work only in the short term.

Finally, animal studies show that consumption of black pepper can help prevent the accumulation of body fat, although it is not yet clear how these results relate to humans (31).

However, if you are drinking chai tea, be careful not to consume too much added sugar. Some popular varieties of chai tea contain significant amounts, which would probably counteract any of the small benefits described above.

The amount and type of milk added to chai tea can also add calories.

A 12-ounce tea (360 ml) made with skim milk contains about 60 calories, while a homemade chai latte can contain about 80 calories.

By comparison, the same amount of fat-free chai latte in your local coffee shop can contain up to 180 calories. It is better to stick to homemade varieties without sugar (14).

Summary: Chai tea contains several ingredients that can work together to promote weight loss or prevent unwanted weight gain. To experience the best results, avoid sweetened chai teas.

Dosage and Safety

Currently, there is no consensus on the amount of chai tea that an average person should take to obtain the health benefits mentioned above.

Most studies focus on the benefits of individual ingredients, which makes it difficult to determine the actual amount of chai tea or the specific recipe you would need to maximize these benefits.

In addition, it is important to keep in mind that chai tea contains caffeine, to which some people may be sensitive (32, 33).

When consumed in excess, caffeine can cause a variety of unpleasant effects, such as anxiety, migraines, high blood pressure and lack of sleep. Too much caffeine can also increase the risk of miscarriage or low birth weight (34, 35, 36, 37).

For these reasons, people should avoid consuming more than 400 mg of caffeine per day, and during pregnancy, no more than 200 mg (38, 39).

That said, it is unlikely that typical chai tea intakes exceed these recommendations.

It is expected that each cup (240 ml) of chai tea contains about 25 mg of caffeine. That's half the dose of caffeine provided by the same amount of black tea and a quarter of the typical coffee cup (32).

Due to the ginger content of chai tea, people prone to low blood pressure or low blood sugar, or taking blood-thinning medications, may want to limit their intake or keep it at the lower end of the range.

People who are lactose intolerant may opt for chai teas made from milk of vegetable origin or only water.

Summary: Chai tea is generally considered safe, although it contains caffeine and ginger, which can cause negative effects in some people. The optimal dose is not yet known.

How to make chai tea at home

Chai tea is relatively simple to make at home. It only requires a few ingredients and you can follow a variety of recipes to do so.

The recipe below is one of the most efficient preparation methods in time that you will find.

It requires you to make a chai concentrate in advance and store it in your refrigerator.

This process only takes a little more time in advance, but significantly reduces the time it will take to enjoy a daily cup of chai tea or chai latte at home.

Tea concentrate chai

This is what you will need to make 16 ounces (474 ​​ml) of concentrate:

The ingredients

  • 20 whole black peppercorns

  • 5 whole teeth

  • 5 pods of green cardamom

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • Anis 1 star

  • 2.5 cups (593 ml) of water

  • 2.5 tablespoons (38 ml) of loose leaf black tea

  • 4 inches (10 cm) of fresh ginger, sliced


  1. Roast the peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and star anise over low heat for about 2 minutes or until fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool.

  2. Using a coffee grinder or spices, grind chilled spices to a coarse powder.

  3. Using a large saucepan, combine water, ginger and ground spices and simmer. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Prevents the mixture from boiling, which will cause the spices to become bitter.

  4. Add the loose leaf black tea, turn off the heat and let stand for about 10 minutes, then strain.

  5. If you prefer your sweet tea, reheat the strained mix along with a healthy sweetener and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, then cool and refrigerate.

  6. Strain the chai tea concentrate into a sterilized bottle and allow to cool before refrigeration. The concentrate is stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

To make a cup of chai tea, simply mix one part of concentrate with one part of hot water and one part of warm cow's milk or plant milk without sugar. For the milk version, use a concentrated part to two parts of milk. Stir and enjoy.

Summary: Chai tea is very simple to make. Simply follow the steps above to make your own version of the concentrate.

The bottom line

Chai tea is an aromatic and spicy tea that can help improve heart health, reduce blood sugar levels, aid digestion and help lose weight.

While most of these health benefits are backed by science, it is worth noting that they are generally linked to the ingredients used in chai tea instead of the chai tea itself.

However, you probably do not have much to lose if you give chai tea a try.

Just keep in mind that you will get the most benefits for the health of your tea by opting for a minimally sweetened version.

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