In many countries around the world “chai” is simply a word for tea. However, in the West, Chai (aka Chai Tea) has become associated with a fragrant, flavourful and milky Indian style masala chai.
There are numerous types of chai on the market with even more homemade recipes utilizing various combinations of different teas, spices and herbs. Each one producing unique flavours and aromas which distinguish such drinks from standard teas.
In addition, chai tea carries numerous benefits like heart health, digestion, stabilizing hormones, lowering blood sugar, strengthening immunity and many more.
What Makes Chai Tea So Good For You?
Chai is often thought as a quintessentially Indian drink that gained world status and dates back thousands of years. Some chai legends go back as far as 9,000 years describing tales of the ancient Indian king who ordered a cleansing and vivifying beverage to be created in Ayurvedic traditional medicine. The original “chai” contained no tea but only mixture of spices and herbs steeped as an elixir.
Ayurvedic medicine went on to produce various recipes of chai which initially used as healing remedies, but later grew into traditional practices of local populations. In the 1900s, the British colonization of India increased consumption of tea and introduced mandatory “tea time” to the general population. The tea, combined with spices and later milk gave birth to the modern day “masala chai” aka “chai tea” we know today.
Most popular recipes include black tea, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fennel and black pepper brewed using both water and milk and sweetened to personal preference. Since chai’s original purpose was always health, many other masala chai recipes have been evolving using combination of different spices (ginger, nutmeg, star anise, turmeric) and herbs (tulsi) along with tea varieties (black, oolong, green and white).
Together, these spiced mixtures hold numerous active ingredients and have been linked to variety of health benefits.
Top 13 Healthy Reasons To Drink Chai Tea
1. Chai Tea has More Antioxidants
Spices, herbs and teas contain numerous phytonutrients, many of which have been identified as powerful antioxidants.
Antioxidants are important as they control ever-growing populations of unstable molecules called free radicals which are the byproducts of millions of metabolic reactions within the body.
Free radicals react suddenly with cell materials and tissues causing damage known as oxidation.  The body maintains internal balance (homeostasis) by controlling free radical levels with antioxidants.
Poor air quality, anxiety, smoking and bad diet also contribute to ever increasing free radical levels. Greater free radical concentrations produce on-going oxidative damage referred to as oxidative stress, a phenomenon that’s been linked to various chronic diseases, neurodegeneration, heart disease, diabetes, cancers and premature aging. 
Many plant foods contain nutrients which have been tested and quantified in form of antioxidant levels. The results have been quantified as ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) values and tabulated based on their nutrient density—with highest antioxidant levels often called superfoods.
The mightiest superfoods with highest ORAC values are all spices and herbs.  This is no accident, as spices have a long history of being used as healing agents by ancient medicines.
Take cloves as an example of the popular ingredient in most chai tea recipes. Cloves pack an immense ORAC value of 290,283 that is loaded with many flavonoids like (vitamin A, C and E) along with its main ingredient eugenol.
Eugenol is a mighty antioxidant which shown to be 5 times more effective in destroying free radicals than vitamin E (another powerful antioxidant).  Cloves possess numerous reactive polyphenols like eugenol, each one contributing to a multitude of health benefits.
Cinnamon is another antioxidant superstar boosting ORAC value of 131,420. 
And, black pepper’s piperine is not only a strong antioxidant but an ingredient that improves bioavailability—absorption of other health benefactor compounds into the blood stream. Piperine shown to increase curcumin’s (turmeric) absorption by whooping 2000%. 
2. Improve Focus and Brain Power with Chai
Dementia and other neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease have been linked to oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.
Chai tea is a rich source of antioxidants that are able to pass through highly selective blood-brain barrier (BBB), access brain cells and protect them against free radical attacks and neuroinflammation. 
Ginger poses great promise in brain research as its potent antioxidants improve cognition  and protect neural cells against damage associated with dementia and Alzheimers’ disease. [11,12]
Other chai spices like fennel, turmeric and cinnamon showcase their brain health powers. Anethole (of fennel) enhances neural communication and improves memory  while cinnamaldehyde (cinnamon) and curcumin (turmeric) inhibit inflammation of brain tissue and reduce hallmark symptoms of Alzheimers  and Parkinson’s diseases. 
3. Enhance Mood and De-stress with Chai
Neuroinflammation and oxidative stress have been linked in development of psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Antioxidants within chai tea can help relieve some of the factors associated with mental health. For instance, smelling cardamom shown to improve anxiety and depression symptoms. 
Spices are great for the brain as their antioxidants scavenge free radicals, protect nerve cells and signalling neurotransmitters raising function; keeping brain tissue active and healthy.
Cinnamon enhances memory, cognition while decreasing anxiety through anti-inflammatory mechanisms by refining insulin sensitivity and reducing oxidative stress. [17,18]
Star anise is another spice that is loaded with potent antioxidants like anethole containing multitude of wellness benefits including antidepressant qualities.
These phytonutrients increase key neurotransmitters in the brain (norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine) which stabilize mood and decrease depression and anxiety symptoms. 
4. Improve Your Skin from Inside Out with Chai
Skin is the largest organ of the body. UV radiation from sun exposure damages skin cells and is one of the oxidative stress elements.
Chai tea’s spices and herbs contain various antioxidants that protect skin against sun damage. They enhance production of structural proteins like collagen and elastin, boost immune cytokines (TGF-beta) while reducing inflammation causing factors. 
Coriander is one of such spices shown to improve skin conditions such as eczema, irritations, rashes, pimples and acne.  Coriander protects skin cells from free radicals, removes toxic metals and increases antioxidant levels in blood. 
Star anise and fennel are other big skin rejuvenators. Both are rich with vitamins A, C and anethole which fights inflammation and oxidation, while replenishing damages within skin cells.