“Tea” (“chay” in Persian), which is originally from India, is a precious beverage full of nutrients, especially when combined with spices, sugar and hot milk. Here we demystify chai latte, an energy-packed beverage which is more than just a fad.
In India, this comforting beverage is on sale on every street corner. Hotels, small shops and mobile street vendors offer it under the simple name of “chai”. The locals drink it throughout the day, a bit like Americans do with coffee. In France, chai latte tops the list of healthy beverages. While chai latte gets the “chai” part of its name from black tea, its mixture of spices (star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger and pepper) known as “masala” gives it its prefix. “Masala chai” is more commonly known in France as chai latte.
The hidden treasures of chai latte
Chai latte whisks us off into the world of Ayurvedic medicine. Like gingerbread and mulled wine, this preparation has spices as its star active ingredients. And for good reason, since they all have countless tonic, antiviral and restorative properties. Combined with theine (the “caffeine” in tea), they make it an incredible stimulant.
- Star anise has digestive, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. It relieves bloating and all kinds of stomach complaints. It’s a great antiseptic for the intestines, and a rescue remedy for indigestion and food poisoning. An antiviral, it alleviates the symptoms of flu and other viruses, whether seasonal or not… Do you have a bit of a cough? Then breathe in a star anise infusion (or three drops of anise essential oil added to hot water). Not only will it soothe the cough, but it will also allow you to breathe more easily. Relaxing and stress-busting, star anise is found in bedtime infusions along with hawthorn or valerian. Even if… It is diuretic, and may have you waking up at night! A good source of antioxidants, invigorating star anise is an effective remedy during convalescence or periods of severe tiredness.
- Cinnamon is known to be an excellent appetite suppressant due to its high dietary fibre, vitamin and mineral content (manganese, calcium and iron). This has a beneficial effect on the immune system and on dental, bone and nail health. In terms of antioxidants, cinnamon is a champion of cellular protection and cardiovascular disease prevention. A great anti-inflammatory and analgesic, it also relieves chronic pain. Luckily enough, it is not keen on cholesterol and breaks it down, especially bad cholesterol (from 3 grams of cinnamon per day upwards) and rebalances blood sugar levels. And for good reason, since it increases metabolic sensitivity to insulin. Would you like another stick?
- Cardamom is the champion across the board when it comes to good digestive health. Its best buddy is intestinal flora, which it really pampers by protecting it against hostile bacteria and fungal growth. Traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat dental ailments, it is also a good breath freshener! Joking aside, its cocktail of minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium and calcium) protects the heart. In Ayurveda, it is recommended for treating all respiratory disorders (asthma, bronchitis, pneumopathy, pneumonia etc.).
- Clove, the darling of dentists and natural medicine practitioners, is not only rich in vitamins (A, C, E, B9 and almost all the other Bs) and trace elements (calcium, manganese, potassium, iodine, phosphorus, iron and zinc). It also has painkilling and anti-nausea properties. You will find it in toothpastes and mouthwashes, because it relieves toothache and gum pain fast, even the stabbing, throbbing kind.
- Ginger is also a great anti-inflammatory (in case of arthrosis, rheumatism, joint pain, etc.) Those who know about its multiple properties consume it every day (it is good for digestion, antibacterial, antiviral and cholesterol-busting – a real all-rounder for good health!) Paired with lemon, it is a sizeable ally for making it through the winter in good health. It is said (in whispers) to be an aphrodisiac, because it stimulates blood circulation.
In India and especially in Ayurvedic medicine, it is said that the virtuous combination of milk and spices keeps our ‘dosha’ (the three energies that fuel the body and mind) in balance.
The spicy recipe!
• 1 large mug of water
• 2 tbsp plain black tea
• 1 clove
• 1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 piece star anise
• 5 cardamom pods
• 1 tsp powdered ginger or a slice of fresh ginger
• 175 ml milk
• A dash of maple syrup (or more, to taste)
1 – Keeping a pinch of cinnamon aside, add the spices to the water and bring to a gentle boil.
2 – Take it off the heat, cover it and leave it to brew for 5 minutes.
3 – Bring it back to the boil.
4 – Add the maple syrup to the milk and heat it up, but cut the heat as soon as it starts to boil.
5 – Whizz up with a blender or whisk until frothy.
6 – Pour the frothed milk over the spiced tea, sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon and enjoy!
With thanks to Marielle Alix, a holistic coach and naturopath, for her pieces of advice.