Each year, International Tea day celebrates the importance of the world’s most commonly consumed beverage, apart from water. Having first been drunk in China 5,000 years ago, tea has a rich heritage and is of great cultural significance. At the same time, it offers its drinkers the opportunity to take a moment to relax and enjoy a feeling of wellbeing. The way in which tea leaves are processed results in six main types of tea, all of which have their own distinct taste. While they are delicious drunk as they are, the versatility of tea means that it can be further infused with additional ingredients to add extra depth, aroma and even health benefits. While herbal teas are common, tea also has a long history with spices which help to create particularly warming and aromatic teas with an exotic twist.
Discovering The World’s Spiced Teas
From India’s Masala Chai to Russia’s Friendship tea, there is a huge range of spiced teas from around the world to choose from. Each is unique, and discovering exotic flavors of tea enables drinkers to immerse themselves in the history and culture of faraway places. From the early use of spices for their healing properties to the addition of ginger or cinnamon to add sweetness and depth to today’s infusions, tea and spices share a long history. While a simple spiced tea is suitable as an everyday drink, others are associated with festive occasions. With a recipe including cloves, cinnamon and orange Tang, drinking Russian Tea at Christmas has been very popular in the US since the 1960s.
The Rise in Popularity of Masala Chai
The best known and most popular spiced tea is the Indian beverage Masala Chai. The tea was originally created thousands of years ago simply by steeping a variety of spices in water, but for the past few decades, in both India and around the world, Masala Chai has been made with black tea. In India, it is made with freshly ground spices including cardamon, nutmeg and ginger, while in US coffeehouses, where it is now very fashionable, the complex and comforting drink is more usually made with a syrup concentrate and flavored with vanilla and cinnamon.
The Health Benefits of Spiced Tea
The original spice ingredients for Masala Chai were chosen for their medicinal properties, and today’s spiced teas continue to offer drinkers a range of benefits to their health. While tea is already a good source of antioxidants that can boost the immune system, spices add a range of essential nutrients including vitamins A, B and C, and minerals such as potassium and magnesium. Cinnamon and ginger also help to relieve digestive complaints while turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
From steeping spices in water to adding them to a range of different teas, spiced tea has been enjoyed around the world for thousands of years. A variety of spices add depth and flavor to tea, as well as bringing additional health benefits.