Author: Stephany Morgan, Herbalist & Tea Specialist at MatchaAlternatives.com
It’s fall! Which means...chai, chai and more chai! Although this just means ‘tea’ in India (from the Chinese chá), what we are really thinking of is ‘masala chai’, a spiced tea. The ‘chai’ and chai latte label is ubiquitous in supermarkets and cafés, but there are so many spices out there, and every one has its own health effects. So for the fall chai-drinker mindful of their body...and mind, in this article I’ll:
- Explore a host of chai mixes, and summarize the health effects of their famous chai spices, roots or herbs
- Highlight synergies, where by combining spices, additional health benefits are realized
- Include a whole bunch of references for those who want to investigate further (don’t mind all those funny letters in the blog, I just want you to know it’s all referenced)
The first bullet is very exciting for our shop and we hope for you too: we have just launched five fantastic new chai blending mixes for MatchaAlternatives’ Blend@Home range. These contain no ‘tea’ but are spice blends themselves designed to add into any MatchaAlternatives tea or in fact any tea you have. With Blend@Home, unlike bagged or pre-mixed chais, you can make your best chai tea - anything can become a chai tea or chai latte, with your desired flavor and strength!
So let’s get to it by exploring the ingredients of our first chai mix:
Classically Cardamom Ginger Chai Blend:
Ingredients: Cardamom, Ginger, Black + White pepper, Cinnamon, Clove and Nutmeg
A health tonic on its own, this classic chai combines warming spices and flavor profiles with powerful health benefits. Cardamom is known to be a powerful antioxidant with the ability to lower blood pressure levels and reduce anxiety (Ca1, Ca2, Ca3). It is also anti-inflammatory, helps to soothe ulcers, and aids digestion (Ca4, Ca5).
Ginger is an herb renowned for its anti-nausea effects and complemented by clove, which in addition to soothing nausea can also address stomach complaints and relieve pain (Gn, Cl).
We know a lot of people are asking about cinnamon in particular, so for the health benefits of cinnamon chai tea we can tell you that: Yes! Cinnamon is another great antioxidant herb. It can help improve insulin sensitivity and is anti-inflammatory (Ca6, Cn, Cn2).
Mix it with nutmeg and pepper to support the synergy of this blend. The herbs are complementary in both flavor and health effects with additive antioxidant compounds and effects on antioxidant enzyme systems, and anti-inflammatory properties (Nm1, Nm2). And pepper, chock full of the active compound piperine ties all these magnificent herbs together, acting to increase bioavailability and enhance the health benefits (P)!
Blending suggestion: The strong spices of the Classically Cardamom Ginger Chai Blend hold their own when mixed with strong teas like English Breakfast and other black teas, pu’erh or with our pure or Roasty Toasty Yerba Mate. With a caffeine content similar to coffee (but friendly antioxidants to reduce jitters) it’s the perfect rich wake-me-up!
Mulling Over Christmas Chai Blend
Ingredients: Orange Peel, Cinnamon, Cloves and Allspice
Cinnamon and cloves come together again to join citrusy orange peel and allspice. Building off of the aforementioned antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving qualities of cinnamon and clove, allspice enters with some powerful medicinal benefits of its own.
Allspice is also known as Jamaican pepper, and is an antioxidant used to lower blood pressure, reduce menopause symptoms, and like clove, improve stomach complaints, and relieve pain (Al).
Orange peel brings not only zest, but also high amounts of vitamin C and trace minerals such as provitamin A, B6, and calcium to the blend. There’s also the added benefit that brewing it in a tea makes it profoundly easier on digestion (Op). Nice!
Blending Suggestion: Double down on a cozy festive evening by mixing this Mulling Over Christmas Chai Blend with our Caramel Christmas Green-Red Rooibos. An unusual blend of both red and super-antioxidant green rooibos, it’s naturally caffeine-free just like all the Blend@Home range so you can drink it all day.
Sweetly Cinnamon Apple Chai Blend:
Ingredients: Apple, Hibiscus, Rosehip, Cinnamon pieces, Cardamom, Ginger, Black + White pepper, Cinnamon, Clove and Nutmeg
Apple, hibiscus, and rosehip join the ginger and cardamom to give a sweet and tangy twist to this warm and spicy blend. All three are complementary due to their rich vitamin C and antioxidant content (A1, A2, A3, H1, R1).
Apple is rich in flavonoids, a class of compounds well known for their health benefits. In fact, “...an apple a day…” may not be such a bad idea and you can get some of that from this chai. Apple consumption is linked with improved pulmonary function and decreased asthma, and can support heart health (A2).
Compared to other fruits, rosehip has one of the highest vitamin C levels, in addition to a plethora of vitamins and polyphenols which support a healthy immune system (R1).
Hibiscus has been found to reduce blood pressure, “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides and additionally may support weight loss (H2, H3, H4). Taken all together you have a tea that supports the immune system, circulatory system, respiratory system, and nervous system!
Blending Suggestion: Go all-out-apple by adding the Sweetly Cinnamon Apple Chai Blend with our Sour Apple Green Tea. Green tea’s light caffeine will also help you focus without getting the jitters
Minty Fresh Licorice Chai Blend:
Ingredients: Ginger, Peppermint, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Lemon balm, Licorice, Fennel, Burdock root and Cornflower petals
Here we have some herbal nervines joining spicy ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom. Peppermint and lemonbalm are from the same family and help the nervous system relax (LbP, P1). Specifically, peppermint decreases anxiety and stress, while cinnamon and peppermint together were found to decrease frustration and increase alertness (Pm). Peppermint is also soothing to the GI tract, helps ease stomach upset and stops spasms (P1, P2).
Lemon balm is used to reduce stress and anxiety and as a sleep aid (Lb1, Lb2).
Fennel is a digestive aid and supports respiratory health when combined with other herbs which help with the respiratory system - like licorice! (F1, F2). A potent antioxidant and blood purifying herb, burdock supports the body by decreasing inflammation (B1, B2).
Lastly, licorice is a soothing herb on the digestive system, eases sore throats, clears congestion, and supports the respiratory tract by acting as an expectorant, decongestant, and cough suppressant (L2, L3, L4). It often acts synergistically supporting the medicinal effects of certain other herbs (L1), for example, ginger (also in this chai mix) and licorice act together to ease inflammation and chest complaints during respiratory infections (Lg).
Blending Suggestion: The Minty Fresh Licorice Chai Blend goes so so well with our Honey I Shrunk the Rooibos, with its strong and sweet honey flavor. Honey, mint and licorice? Yes please!
Pinch of Pink Pepper Aniseed Chai Blend:
Ingredients: Ginger, Tulsi (Holy Basil), Cinnamon, Anise, Orange pieces, Apple pieces, Star Anise, Pink peppercorns, Orange slices, Safflower petals, Natural Flavors
The sweet and spicy flavors of ginger and cinnamon meet the citrus notes of juicy orange and tangy apple. Adaptogenic Tulsi brings a soothing calm to ease stress and gently energize (Tul). It normalizes blood sugar and blood pressure while also acting on the mind to mediate mood (Tul).
Aniseed compliments the flavor profile, has promising antidepressant effects and is high in antioxidants (An1, An2).
Star Anise, which is not related to Aniseed despite similar names and flavors, is an herb rich in anti-inflammatory compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids (St1, Sr2). It’s also antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral (St3, St4).
Lastly, peppercorns ripe with the active ingredient piperine tie the whole blend together and synergistically enhance the benefits of the herbs! (P)
Blending Suggestion: Our Candied Pineapple Ginger Green Rooibos is a rare sight - a green rooibos blend that is one of our best sellers, as well as being one of the highest antioxidant contents of any tea. Spice it up even more with a spoon or two of the Pinch of Pink Pepper Aniseed Chai Blend!
Base Teas for Blending
With all these wonderful ingredients, in addition to our existing Blend@Home range of rose petals, turmeric pieces, licorice, ginger, lemon balm and many more, it’s really key to appreciate the flexibility they give you. For instance, although a black chai tea is most famous, you can add them to evening teas to create a delicious caffeine-free chai tea which won’t ruin your sleep.
Our best loose leaf tea bases to experiment are:
- Naturally Caffeine Free: Pure Rooibos, Honeybush, Green Rooibos, Chamomile
- Naturally Caffeinated: (whole range of) Pure Green Teas, Purple Tea, White Tea and (high caffeine) Yerba Mate
- Adaptogens: Pure Moringa powder and Tulsi Holy Basil (these are both caffeine free but being adaptogenic have reinvigorating properties)
- Shop All Pure Teas
The Health Benefits of Rooibos Chai, Green Tea Chai, Tulsi Chai and More
So now you’re planning to blend your own chai, and you have learned all about the chai blends’ health benefits, do you know about the health effects of our pure spices and base teas?
- Health benefits of our pure turmeric, ginger, licorice, lavender and more in our Blend@Home Tea Guide
- Antioxidants in Rooibos, Honeybush & Chamomile: What Do They Actually Do?
- Antioxidants in Green vs Black Teas: What's the Difference?
- Antioxidant Benefits of Yerba Mate, Moringa, & Tulsi
- Plus a whole lot more blogs on the subjects of Tea Wellness and Tea Spotlights, such as for Purple Tea
Note from the Herbalist
So enjoy your healthy chai tea latte knowing now exactly how these different gorgeous spices help you with their synergistic effects. Conveniently I’ve written a guide on how to make the perfect loose leaf latte, too. ;-)
As a reminder, for any of our Blend@Home Chai mixes, they are caffeine-free chais as there is no tea in them. They also are natural spices, not one of those over-processed chai tea powders with various additives, colors and sweeteners.
So, pick a base tea or one from your favorites from your tea cupboard, grab a chai mix from us, and hey presto: tea blends DIY! Just in time for fall!
For me personally, I love mixing it up to another level - making up a cool new take on the London Fog. I take the Classy Earl Grey Rooibos, Blend@Home Pure French Lavender and add a 1-2tsp of the Mulling Over Christmas Chai Blend. A naturally decaf Chai London Fog!!!
Like matcha tea, this powder is also perfect for your smoothie, latte, cereal or in baking to get your daily antioxidant hit.
Loads of antioxidants first thing in the morning and wakes you up with a coffee-like burst of caffeine, without the crash or shakes!
A gently calming drink, this deliciously creative honeybush-chamomile blend is designed for tranquility.
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Each thirty minute track is perfect for studying, meditation, or just ambient music for a relaxing afternoon.
A new song every month, so collect the entire album - for free!
All of the information regarding the herbs, botanicals, minerals, vitamins, etc., is information drawn from traditional use data or academic research and should be regarded as such. If you, the reader, has a health or medical concern, please consult your healthcare professional. The information found here is not meant to diagnose, treat, prescribe or cure and has not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is for educational purposes only.
Chai Spices Health Benefits References & Further Reading
Ca1: Kandikattu, H. K., Rachitha, P., Jayashree, G. V., Krupashree, K., Sukhith, M., Majid, A., Amruta, N., & Khanum, F. (2017). Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects of Cardamom (Elettaria repens (Sonn.) Baill) and its phytochemical analysis by 4D GCXGC TOF-MS. Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy = Biomedecine & pharmacotherapie, 91, 191–201. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopha.2017.04.049
Ca2: Masoumi-Ardakani, Y., Mahmoudvand, H., Mirzaei, A., Esmaeilpour, K., Ghazvini, H., Khalifeh, S., & Sepehri, G. (2017). The effect of Elettaria cardamomum extract on anxiety-like behavior in a rat model of post-traumatic stress disorder. Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy = Biomedecine & pharmacotherapie, 87, 489–495. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopha.2016.12.116
Ca3: https://theayurvedaexperience.com/blogs/tae/cardamom-benefits-uses-side-effects Accessed 13/09/2020
Ca4: Jamal, A., Javed, K., Aslam, M., & Jafri, M. A. (2006). Gastroprotective effect of cardamom, Elettaria cardamomum Maton. fruits in rats. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 103(2), 149–153. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2005.07.016
Ca5: Kandikattu, H. K., Rachitha, P., Jayashree, G. V., Krupashree, K., Sukhith, M., Majid, A., Amruta, N., & Khanum, F. (2017). Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects of Cardamom (Elettaria repens (Sonn.) Baill) and its phytochemical analysis by 4D GCXGC TOF-MS. Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy = Biomedecine & pharmacotherapie, 91, 191–201. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopha.2017.04.049
Ca6: Dhuley J. N. (1999). Anti-oxidant effects of cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) bark and greater cardamom (Amomum subulatum) seeds in rats fed high fat diet. Indian journal of experimental biology, 37(3), 238–242.
Gn: Lete, I., & Alluέ, J. (2016). The Effectiveness of Ginger in the Prevention of Nausea and Vomiting during Pregnancy and Chemotherapy. Integrative Medicine Insights, 11, IMI.S36273. https://doi.org/10.4137/imi.s36273
Cl: Mbaveng, A. T., & Kuete, V. (2017). Syzygium aromaticum. In Medicinal Spices and Vegetables from Africa (pp. 611–625). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-809286-6.00029-7
Cl2: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/immunology-and-microbiology/clove Accessed 13/09/2020
Cn: Anderson R. A. (2008). Chromium and polyphenols from cinnamon improve insulin sensitivity. The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 67(1), 48–53. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0029665108006010
Cn2: Liao, J. C., Deng, J. S., Chiu, C. S., Hou, W. C., Huang, S. S., Shie, P. H., & Huang, G. J. (2012). Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Cinnamomum cassia Constituents In Vitro and In Vivo. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2012, 429320. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/429320
Nm1: Abourashed, E. A., & El-Alfy, A. T. (2016). Chemical diversity and pharmacological significance of the secondary metabolites of nutmeg (Myristica fragrans Houtt.). Phytochemistry Reviews, 15(6), 1035–1056. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11101-016-9469-x
Nm2: Zhang, W. K., Tao, S.-S., Li, T.-T., Li, Y.-S., Li, X.-J., Tang, H.-B., Cong, R.-H., Ma, F.-L., & Wan, C.-J. (2016). Nutmeg oil alleviates chronic inflammatory pain through inhibition of COX-2 expression and substance P release in vivo. Food & Nutrition Research, 60(1), 30849. https://doi.org/10.3402/fnr.v60.30849
P: Kesarwani, K., & Gupta, R. (2013). Bioavailability enhancers of herbal origin: An overview. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 3(4), 253–266. https://doi.org/10.1016/s2221-1691(13)60060-x
Al: Zhang, L., & L. Lokeshwar, B. (2012). Medicinal Properties of the Jamaican Pepper Plant Pimenta dioica and Allspice. Current Drug Targets, 13(14), 1900-1906. doi: 10.2174/138945012804545641
Op: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/can-you-eat-orange-peels#benefits Accessed 13/09/2020
A1: Lee, V. W., Rupasinghe*, H. P. V., & Jackson, C.-J. (2004). Bioflavonoids of Apples: Effects of Genetic Variability, Fruit Parts and Processing. HortScience, 39(4), 829D – 829. https://doi.org/10.21273/hortsci.39.4.829d
A2. Boyer, J., & Liu, R. H. (2004). Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Nutrition Journal, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-3-5
A3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/apples#plant-compounds Accessed 13/09/2020
H1: Ajiboye, T. O., Salawu, N. A., Yakubu, M. T., Oladiji, A. T., Akanji, M. A., & Okogun, J. I. (2011). Antioxidant and drug detoxification potentials of Hibiscus sabdariffa anthocyanin extract. Drug and chemical toxicology, 34(2), 109–115. https://doi.org/10.3109/01480545.2010.536767
H2: Mozaffari-Khosravi, H., Jalali-Khanabadi, B. A., Afkhami-Ardekani, M., & Fatehi, F. (2009). Effects of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on lipid profile and lipoproteins in patients with type II diabetes. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.), 15(8), 899–903. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2008.0540
H3: Chang, H. C., Peng, C. H., Yeh, D. M., Kao, E. S., & Wang, C. J. (2014). Hibiscus sabdariffa extract inhibits obesity and fat accumulation, and improves liver steatosis in humans. Food & function, 5(4), 734–739. https://doi.org/10.1039/c3fo60495k
H4: Chang, H. C., Peng, C. H., Yeh, D. M., Kao, E. S., & Wang, C. J. (2014). Hibiscus sabdariffa extract inhibits obesity and fat accumulation, and improves liver steatosis in humans. Food & function, 5(4), 734–739. https://doi.org/10.1039/c3fo60495k
R1: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168998/nutrients Accessed 13/09/2020
Pm: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/stressed_peppermint_can_help Accessed 13/09/2020
LbP: https://www.britannica.com/plant/balm-several-herbs-of-the-mint-family Accessed 13/09/2020
P1: https://theherbalacademy.com/a-family-herb-amazing-mint/ Accessed 13/09/2020
P2: McKay, D. L., & Blumberg, J. B. (2006). A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L.). Phytotherapy research : PTR, 20(8), 619–633. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.1936
Lb1: Scholey, A., Gibbs, A., Neale, C., Perry, N., Ossoukhova, A., Bilog, V., Kras, M., Scholz, C., Sass, M., & Buchwald-Werner, S. (2014). Anti-Stress Effects of Lemon Balm-Containing Foods. Nutrients, 6(11), 4805–4821. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu6114805
Lb2: Müller, S. F., & Klement, S. (2006). A combination of valerian and lemon balm is effective in the treatment of restlessness and dyssomnia in children. Phytomedicine, 13(6), 383–387. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2006.01.013
F1: http://www.herbaleducation.net/fennel Accessed 13/09/2020
F2: Badgujar, S. B., Patel, V. V., & Bandivdekar, A. H. (2014). Foeniculum vulgareMill: A Review of Its Botany, Phytochemistry, Pharmacology, Contemporary Application, and Toxicology. BioMed Research International, 2014, 1–32. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/842674
B1: Ferracane, R., Graziani, G., Gallo, M., Fogliano, V., & Ritieni, A. (2010). Metabolic profile of the bioactive compounds of burdock (Arctium lappa) seeds, roots and leaves. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, 51(2), 399–404. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpba.2009.03.018
B2: Maghsoumi-Norouzabad, L., Alipoor, B., Abed, R., Eftekhar Sadat, B., Mesgari-Abbasi, M., & Asghari Jafarabadi, M. (2014). Effects ofArctium lappaL. (Burdock) root tea on inflammatory status and oxidative stress in patients with knee osteoarthritis. International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases, 19(3), 255–261. https://doi.org/10.1111/1756-185x.12477
B3: Chan, Y., Cheng, L., Wu, J. et al. A review of the pharmacological effects of Arctium lappa(burdock). Inflammopharmacol 19, 245–254 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10787-010-0062-4
L1: https://www.gfcherbs.com/Images/Jade%20Source.pdf Accessed 13/09/2020
L2: Setright, Russell. Prevention of symptoms of gastric irritation (GERD) using two herbal formulas: An observational study [online]. Journal of the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society, Vol. 23, No. 2, Winter 2017: 68-71. Availability:<https://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=950298610899394;res=IELHEA> ISSN: 1326-3390. [cited 14 Sep 20].
L3: Agarwal, A., Gupta, D., Yadav, G., Goyal, P., Singh, P. K., & Singh, U. (2009). An evaluation of the efficacy of licorice gargle for attenuating postoperative sore throat: a prospective, randomized, single-blind study. Anesthesia and analgesia, 109(1), 77–81. https://doi.org/10.1213/ane.0b013e3181a6ad47
L4: Martin, B. R., Reshamwala, G., & Short, M. (2018). Treatment of a Woman With Glycyrrhiza glabra for Acute Sinusitis: A Case Report. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 17(4), 268–274. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcm.2018.04.005
Lg: https://theherbalacademy.com/licorice-and-ginger-herbal-decongestants/ Accessed 13/09/2020
Tul: Cohen, M. (2014). Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 5(4), 251. https://doi.org/10.4103/0975-9476.146554
An1: Ghoshegir, S., Mazaheri, M., Ghannadi, A., Feizi, A., Babaeian, M., & Tanhaee, M. et al. (2020). Pimpinella anisum in the treatment of functional dyspepsia: A double-blind, randomized clinical trial. Journal Of Research In Medical Sciences, 20(1), 13-21. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4354059/
An2: Shojaii, A., & Abdollahi Fard, M. (2012). Review of Pharmacological Properties and Chemical Constituents ofPimpinella anisum. ISRN Pharmaceutics, 2012, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.5402/2012/510795
St1: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/herbs/anise/anise-vs-star-anise.htm Accessed 13/09/2020
St2: Aly, S. E., Sabry, B. A., Shaheen, M. S., & Hathout, A. S. (2016). Assessment of antimycotoxigenic and antioxidant activity of star anise (Illicium verum) in vitro. Journal of the Saudi Society of Agricultural Sciences, 15(1), 20–27. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jssas.2014.05.003
St3: Yang, J. F., Yang, C. H., Chang, H. W., Yang, C. S., Wang, S. M., Hsieh, M. C., & Chuang, L. Y. (2010). Chemical composition and antibacterial activities of Illicium verum against antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Journal of medicinal food, 13(5), 1254–1262. https://doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2010.1086
St4: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/star-anise#benefits Accessed 13/09/2020