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After water, Chai Tea is the oldest beverage in the world, and today it is one of the most popular. Over recent years chai tea has become a market rival and replacing many standard coffees as the “morning hot drink.” The presence of chai in the Western world is inescapable and has become a standard item at coffee shops and cafes – some small businesses are even singling their beverage menu to JUST tea. With its lack of coffee and thick, milky substance, chai tea is making for an ideal substitute for those who like the idea of coffee just not the taste. With Chai being a booming and growing beverage trend it raises the question where did it come from? What are the benefits?

What is it?
Chai is blend of spices, most popular being cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and black pepper. These spices are added to a pot of boiling milk and water along with a robust black tea and sweetener to produce a sweet aromatic spiced milk tea. The spices used vary depending on where the tea is being prepared. It has had an explosive growth over the past 10 years with the demand for chai beverages only continuing to grow and become more and more popular. Chai creates that wonderful, uplifting, warming and relaxing experience, with a number of health benefits to add.

Chai’s strongest separation point from traditional tea and coffee is the versatility and variety of flavours that can be added such as the most common American flavour “Spiced Pumpkin Chai latte.” The tea base of black tea is almost overpowered by the sugar, milk and mix of spices that make up chai. The amount of sugar and milk that is added is entirely up the maker. It is not uncommon for two people to order completely different versions of chai and still enjoy that relaxing spiced tea beverage.

Where did it come from?
The origin of chai tea steams from India and has thousands of years history, it was used as remedies, as a welcome drink and served as a tea for royalty. In the early 1900s, Indian workers for the British-owned tea farms started adding a selection of different spices and sugars to their black tea. The new sensation of tea soon crossed over seas and made an impact in the American market only to continue to grow worldwide. The dramatic growth of Chai came in 2002 when AC Nielson Data recorded chai sales up 82% from the previous year. This leap caught tea retailers eye who predicted that chi would be a growing phenomenon and its real popularity has yet to come. In some areas people tend to drink an average of 4 cups of chai per day.

What are the benefits?
The overgrowing focus on healthy living is a strong reason why Chai tea has become so popular. With being sweeter than coffee it also has less caffeine. You would need to drink 3 cups of chai tea to achieve the same amount of caffeine as 1 cup of coffee. Having less caffeine is only one reason people have turned to chai tea as their beverage of choice, it also has many beneficial properties. The black tea in chai is rich in antioxidants; these nutrients cleanse and boost the body’s overall functions. The spices alone that are added to chai tea can individually benefit a person’s health.

Cinnamon can fight against infections, reduces bowel conditions, helps with digestion, increase circulation and open breathing, increase awareness and vitality, reduce fatigue and is also an apparent aphrodisiac

Ginger is famous for its healing properties and is often listed as an ingredient on medicines and has been used to treat conditions such as impotence and motion sickness.

Cardamom is a key spice in chai tea that is said to benefit the lungs, kidneys and heart, while also being used as a mood elevator. It can reduce inflammation, prevent blood clots and is used as a natural laxative.

Whether you choose the traditional spice combination, or the modern vanilla twist of chai, the benefits are still there. Here are 6 reasons why it is beneficial for your health to make the switch to chai tea:

1. Cancer Risk reduced
Common chai spices contain antioxidants and phytochemicals with cancer preventing properties.

2. Prevents Colds
Again the antioxidants and phytochemicals in chai work in fusion to support the immune system, particularly Ginger. Ginger has gut-boosting properties which benefit our defences. Chai is also beneficial for warning the system you have a cold.

3. Relieves PMS
The spices in chai have been shown to balance hormones and alleviate pain associated with PMS.

4. Boost Metabolism
Regular consumption of chai spices stimulates digestive and pancreatic enzymes as well as improving oxygen uptake and fat breakdown.

5. Reduces Bloating
Chai spices enhance the digestive activities of the stomach and intestines. They also encourage movement through the gastrointestinal system, which prevents water and air being drawn to the area, therefore preventing gas.

6. Boosts Energy
The spices used in chai help facilitate energy production within the body.

Today Chai can be found in many forms such as liquid concentrate, powdered chai and tea bags. Chai has begun to claim more and more space on the beverage menus across the world, with some coffee houses using it to make chai muffins and cakes. Many fine retailers say that chai is directed at the younger audience mostly college and young professionals because they are willing to try new things.

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