Chai comes from the Indian subcontinent where “chai” is simply the generic term for “tea” in Hindi. There is nothing basic, though, about chai.
Chai is a traditional Indian tea that has been used for centuries in Eastern medicine to cure many ailments and strengthen the immune system. The tea is rich in antioxidants, the spices may promote health and well being, and it is much lower in caffeine content than coffee. Chai is traditionally steeped in milk. In the US, chai latte is made by mixing chai tea with milk or a milk substitute. Most chai lattes include a sweetener to bring out the full flavor of the spices.
There are thousands of chai recipes– but the basic components of chai include black tea, cinnamon, ginger, clove, cardamom and black pepper.
While each of these ingredients has its own powerful health benefits, their synergy creates a potent tea that may help support digestion, prevent cancer, lower blood sugar and promote cardiovascular health.
Cinnamon is thought to increase circulation and open breathing, increase awareness and vitality, and reduce fatigue.
A popular spice in both the Indian and Chinese preparations, cardamom is said to benefit the lungs, kidneys, and heart. It is also a mood elevator.
Believed to invigorate and restore, helps generate heat in the body, useful during the cold/flu season. Cloves soothe toothaches, serve as a breath freshener, relieve nausea and can also be taken for gastric upsets.
Ginger is commonly used as a digestive aid and contains compounds that ease motion sickness and nausea. These healing qualities can be attributed to its high Vitamin C and antioxidant content. This root is also useful in fighting heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. It is also excellent for improving sluggish circulation.
Many chai recipes also contain black pepper. Black pepper is beneficial for reducing the symptoms of a chronic common cold, especially in the winter months. Black pepper also promotes sweating, which can cool down your body and help breaks a fever. Pepper also arouses the taste buds, improves digestion and reduces gas.
The reason I celebrate Chai? It’s rich, warming, comforting & aromatic…all at the same time. At The Tea Smith, we have a number of different Chai blends, and we have gotten creative with fun variations from the basic drink. Warm up this winter with one of our Chai Latte Creations! Choose a tea, choose a milk, add some flavor!
See all our Chai offerings
November 3rd, 2015
They say the world is divided into many diverse groups. Some of us prefer dogs to cats, snow to sun, meat to veggies, and coffee to tea. To be perfectly honest, I fell into the coffee drinker group until just recently. As I began to spend more of my time at The Tea Smith, I found myself preferring the taste of Cinnamon Sensation Rooibos and Matcha tea to my old standby- the triple tall Carmel Macchiato.
So is one drink really better than the other? And do you really have to choose one over the other?
Let’s start with coffee. If you’re like over half the adult population in the United States, you drink coffee everyday. Many coffee drinkers enjoy the taste. And for those who don’t, there are numerous variations – like sugar, milk, and syrups to disguise the flavor. Another reason people drink coffee is for a caffeine boost. Many people, myself included, swear by that first cup of coffee each morning.
Most regular coffee drinkers might argue their habit isn’t doing any harm to their bodies. In fact, they’ll point to reports touting the potential health benefits associated with coffee including: protecting against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, liver cancer, and promoting a healthy heart.
Please note- I am not suggesting that people start drinking coffee by the gallon. Too much of anything can be bad. The findings were based on black coffee. The same might not hold true for many of what I call “dessert-based” coffees that people consume.
I once read a quote from a nutritionist based at a London University who said “Drinking tea is actually better for you than drinking water.” Her premise is that water is essentially replacing fluid. Tea replaces fluids and contains antioxidants so it’s got two things going for it.
Tea is the second most widely consumed beverage in the world, after water. Why? Because of its versatility: it can be drank cold or hot, and there are enough varieties of tea to suit just about any taste. (I’m going to guess that number is well over 2,000).
People also have been drinking tea for centuries because of its health effects. Research suggests drinking tea—particularly green tea—can fight diseases and even lengthen life. This is due to tea’s high concentration of antioxidants called polyphenols, which may contribute to the prevention of cancer, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular diseases. While polyphenols are also found in abundance in fruits, vegetables, and grains—and also coffee in even higher amounts—tea is especially and uniquely rich in particular types of polyphenols called catechins (specifically, EGCG) that may be the most powerful ones of all.
Purists consider only green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and pu-erh tea the real thing. They are all derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, a shrub native to China and India, and contain unique antioxidants called flavonoids. The herbal ’teas’ or infusions, made from herbs, fruit, seeds or roots have lower concentrations of antioxidants. Their chemical make up varies depending on the plant used. Popular choices include—ginger, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, hibiscus, jasmine, rosehip, mint, rooibos (red tea), chamomile, and echinacea.
Although many questions remain about how long tea needs to be steeped for the most benefit, and how much you should drink, nutritionists agree any tea is good tea. They do prefer brewed teas over bottled to avoid the extra calories and sweeteners.
Both coffee and tea contain virtually no calories when mixed with water. Many drinkers add sugar and/or cream for a sweeter flavor. The actual tea leaf or coffee bean is virtually calorie-less. With no fat, no sodium, and no carbs – where can you go wrong?
Both coffee and tea contain caffeine. Coffee has about twice as much as tea if you compare it cup to cup. Caffeine in reasonable amounts during the day is considered healthy for most people, as it helps accelerate the metabolism. Coffee has some B vitamins, potassium and other minerals while Tea is high in manganese, folate and potassium. Both add a bit of nutrient goodness to your daily mix.
The end conclusion is that you can derive benefits from drinking both coffee and tea.
So there you have it! And my next drink? A pumpkin spice latte from The Tea Smith!
October 19th, 2015
October. The weather is turning cooler and the leaves are starting to turn beautiful shades of orange and red. One of my favorite things to do is sit out on my deck with a cup of hot tea. This is also a great time of year to experiment with the abundance of delicious fall flavors. Even if you’re not an avid tea-drinker, I highly suggest that you get into the spirit of the season and give one a try. And my favorite pairing with tea this time of year is Pumpkin Chocolate Chip bread. Although I wouldn’t classify this as a low fat recipe, a little indulgence during the season is always a treat! Enjoy!
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
- 3 cups white sugar
- 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2/3 cup water
- 4 eggs
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use milk chocolate chips)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. In a large bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, oil, water, and eggs. Beat until smooth. Blend in flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill pans ½ to ¾ full. Bake for one hour or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Cool on wire racks before removing from pans.
October 7th, 2015
‘Tis the season to be wowed by fresh fruits and vegetables! We want to help you savor this season for all it’s worth. For sweetness and flavor, fresh peaches just can’t be beat. Some days are perfect for iced tea, while others are perfect for baking. We’ve got ideas for enjoying those fresh peaches either way.
Easy Peach Tea Recipe
Bring syrup ingredients to a boil. Then reduce heat to medium. Crush peach slices as you stir to dissolve sugar. Turn off heat, cover and let sit for 30 minutes. Boil water and then add tea. Let tea steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and refrigerate. Next, strain the syrup through a fine strainer, and add syrup to tea. Serve over ice.
(Recipe adapted from www.passionforsavings.com)
Quick and Easy Peach Pie
While that buttery, flaky crust can be the best part about eating pie, this fresh-peach recipe is good without the hassle of rolling and cutting out a crust.
- 1 stick butter
- 3-4 sliced fresh peaches
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup flour
Melt butter in casserole dish in oven. Mix all other ingredients except peaches. Put peaches over melted butter. Add mixture. Bake it at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until done.
(Recipe adapted from www.cooks.com)
Enjoy those fresh peaches while you can!
September 17th, 2015
Although it’s not exactly Autumn yet, we can almost taste it in the air. We can definitely taste it in a few of our teas, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It is, after all, still summer. Let’s talk about things that really are in season: apples and peaches. If you don’t have access to fruit trees, you can easily find apples and peaches at a farmer’s market or a local grocery store. They tend to be very reasonably priced this time of year, too.
We are always looking for ways to enhance your enjoyment of tea, and we have found a perfect seasonal companion. Check out this easy recipe for Apple Peach Cobbler. It goes very well with Red Pearls or China Breakfast tea and a dollop of ice cream on the side. It’s also a great treat to share with friends. Live in the moment, and enjoy the season while it lasts!
Apple Peach Cobbler
- 4 cups sliced, peeled fresh or frozen peaches, thawed
- 1 medium tart apple, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cold butter
- ½ cup whole milk
- Vanilla ice cream
- In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Transfer to a greased, shallow 2 quart baking dish.
- For topping, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until
crumbly. Stir in milk just until blended. Drop by spoonfuls over peach mixture.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until filling is bubbly and topping is golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream (and tea).
Recipe adapted from tasteofhome.com.
September 10th, 2015