Masala Chai: The Spiced Tea
At MUD\WTR, the word chai has supplanted the word yeah. It takes some word-bending, but by walking around the office saying things like, chai right...
At MUD\WTR, the word chai has supplanted the word yeah. It takes some word-bending, but by walking around the office saying things like, chai right! it adds a sprinkle of silliness to the day, which always precedes lightning strikes of inspiration.
Masala Chai enthusiasts (like us) will debate its origins until the bitter end. Part of our team claims that it was first poured in Thailand, while others fire back that it originated in China sometime between 5,000-9,000 years ago. Debates can get heated here off Abbot Kinney.
But this is not up for debate: masala chai can help with digestion, cholesterol, and immune support. Crush ginger, cardamom, tulsi, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon and bam, you’ve got chai! It’s wildly popular in India. The word “chai” literally means “tea” in Hindi and if you walk along the busy streets of Mumbai in the searing summer heat, you’ll see lots of street vendors called chai wallahs (tea people). A popular time for chai in India is around 4 p.m. with an afternoon snack.
In 1835, the British setup tea plantations in Assam, India, however chai was too expensive for the Indian proletariat and was primarily an export. By the early 1900s, the British-owned Indian Tea Association began to market chai within India and it started to catch on. By the 1960s, new technologies arrived that allowed for mechanized mass production and its popularity exploded.
In addition to being a cool word, chai also improves digestion. Cardamom increases saliva which produces an enzyme that breaks down food. When you pair this with tulsi, clove, and ginger, it makes for a combination of soothing spices to settle an upset stomach.
Cloves contain high amounts of antioxidants, which aid the immune system in fighting oxidative damage and free radicals. When your body doesn’t produce enough antioxidants it contributes to oxidative stress which can lead to cancer. Cinnamon also contains high amounts of antioxidants. When clove and cinnamon are combined, their medicinal qualities are enhanced and it makes for a potent immune booster.
Cinnamon in chai is the ingredient that can help lower cholesterol. In one study, cinnamon reduced “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides by up to 30%.
Chai’s anti-inflammatory effects are mostly derived from ginger. Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger and responsible for reduced inflammation which has also been shown to help women who suffer from menstrual cramps.
Black tea is a primary ingredient in Masala Chai, but MUD\WTR only contains about 1/7th the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. Just enough to get your day started, without feeling like your heart is going to explode.
Have you ever been sitting at a coffee shop, two or three cups deep, when, without warning, you feel an ominous movement in your bowels? Just minutes ago you were writing in your gratitude journal, now you’re covered in stress sweat hoping there’s not a line at the restroom. It’s locked. Clenching your glutes you consider busting down the door like Seal Team 6. Finally, it opens. You sprint to the porcelain repository and breathe like you’re in labor. This is not healthy, yet millions of poor souls are faced with this situation every day.
Our philosophy on caffeine is similar to our philosophy on sunlight — a little is great, it wakes you up, keeps the depression demons at bay, and produces statements like, “Today is gonna be a good day.” Too much, however, can f*ck you up. Masala chai helps you get your day started with vigor while maintaining a Yoda-like state of relaxed awareness.