Whether we sip it over ice or enjoy it as a frothy latte, chai is one of our favorite drinks to indulge in (Chai Latte at Starbucks, anyone?).

But what exactly is chai made of? Below are a few unique facts you probably didn’t know about this spice:

Its proper name is masala chai (originating in India), which means spice blend. Chai is actually just a word for tea, though others may recognize its linguistic cousin, cha, which is a common word for tea throughout Asia. Masala chai blends vary throughout all parts of India. Some families may include cinnamon, fennel, and cumin in their masala, while others may prefer a sweeter version made with nutmeg, rose petals, and clove. Regardless, almost every family enjoys a masala blend that includes cardamom, ginger, sugar, and milk.

Masala chai traditionally requires a bit of sweetness. The inclusion of sugar is surprising to many, as masala chai is thought of as a healthy drink! However, without a bit of sweetener, the spices fade into the tea and actually makes for a slightly disappointing cup. Our version below uses honey, which not only elevates the flavors but also adds a bit of its own.

Chai is lower in caffeine than coffee. Resort to chai if you’re looking for a caffeine boost that’s not too intense!

Spices used in chai have all sorts of health benefits. Ginger, for example, helps settle a sour stomach, has anti-inflammatory properties, and is known to be high in antioxidants. Cardamom, another cornerstone of chai, works as a diuretic, detoxifier, and can even lower blood pressure.

Masala chai has been the drink of choice in India for centuries. In fact, throughout India and neighboring areas, it’s as common to buy a morning takeout from a local cart (called a chai walla) as it is for Americans to grab an iced coffee from Starbucks.

Craving a cozy cup? Find our delicious recipe below!

Masala Chai

1 1/2 cup milk
3 cups water
3 tablespoons black tea
2 cinnamon quills
1 tablespoon cardamom pods, crushed
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 cup almonds
1 teaspoon toasted fennel seeds
2-4 tablespoons honey or brown sugar

1. Heat all ingredients in a pot. Once the mixture boils, reduce heat, and simmer for at least 15 minutes.
2. Strain and serve.

xx, The FabFitFun Team