Ayurvedic medicine is rooted in ancient Indian history, with the word Ayurveda translating to ‘life-knowledge’. Its application to tea is effective in balancing the body, offering natural remedies for allergies, anxiety and digestion.
Discover the immense health benefits of The Tea Centre’s nutritious chai ingredients in our in-depth breakdown below.
Anise – also referred to as aniseed – is a flowering plant from the family Apiaceae, native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia.
Sharing flavour similarities with star anise, fennel and liquorice, anise has been applied in many traditional medicines as an antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, carminative, digestive and tonic agent. Anise preparations are an excellent remedy for asthma, bronchitis cough and digestive disorders.
Distinct and sweet, anise offers a fresh, pleasing aftertaste, and pairs well with both sweet and savoury flavours.
Deriving from the Piperaceae family, the black pepper plant is a trailing, woody vine that grows in tropical climates. As it develops, it bears small white blossoms that become the berries known as peppercorns.
Black pepper helps shore up the system with minerals like potassium and calcium. Zinc promotes cell growth and is a stealth antioxidant, protecting against free radical damage. New research has also suggested black pepper may affect metabolism, with its direct influence of fat storage signifying it may be useful in preventing fat accumulation.
While black pepper stems from many different regions, its taste is primarily robust and sharp – varying from mild to very hot.
Closely linked to ginger, cardamom may be engaged in many of the same ways.
Commonly used in Indian cuisine, cardamom has also played its part in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for mouth ulcers and digestive problems. It may be used to combat nausea, acidity, bloating, gas and heartburn, as a detoxifier, as a breath freshener, and also as a diuretic.
Fragrant and powerful, cardamom’s spicy, herbal character complements cinnamon, nutmeg and other aromatic spices.
Cinnamon has been prized for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. Made from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree, this spice has been used throughout history – dating back as far as ancient Egypt.
Combating body infections, repairing tissue damage, and improving some key risk factors for heart disease including cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure, cinnamon is one of the most delectable and healthy chai spices available.
Its sweet-spicy flavour enhances the taste of many fruits and vegetables, may be used to mellow tartness, and pairs beautifully with chocolate (and black tea of course).
Globally recognised for its medicinal and culinary qualities, the clove spice bud is actually a ‘flower bud’ from an evergreen rainforest tree native to the Indonesian Spice Islands.
The active principles in cloves are known to have antioxidant, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and rubefacient – that is warming and soothing – properties. These active principles increase gut mobility, relieving indigestion problems. The spice also contains good minerals including potassium, manganese, iron, selenium and magnesium.
Due to its powerful, astringent flavour, clove is best used sparingly – so as to complement other ingredients rather than subdue them.
This celery lookalike is recognisable by its long, green stalks and white bulb. Stemming from the Mediterranean countries of Italy and Greece, it is now grown internationally.
In ancient Chinese medicine fennel was used to aid a variety of ailments, from congestion, to stomach upset, insect bites and soothing a sore throat. Exceptionally high in fibre, fennel helps maintain bone strength (through all the vitamin C), improves skin health, lowers blood pressure and increases satiety.
Fennel’s interesting liquorice-type taste is complemented by a sweet aroma – making for a deliciously fragrant chai ingredient.
The flavoursome flowering plant of ginger originates from China. Belonging to the Zingiberaceae family, this common chai ingredient is closely related to turmeric, cardamom and galangal.
An essential root in eastern medicine, ginger has been shown to improve circulation, aid digestion, and boost the immune system. Its anti-inflammatory properties can be especially helpful for those suffering arthritis, and relieving for those with injury related swelling. It has also been used to reduced nausea, and as a flu-fighter.
Ginger’s flavour is characterised by its unique blend of citrus, soap, and earthy flavour notes. Warming to the taste, it is aromatic and strong.
A juniper berry is the female seed cone produced by various species of junipers. Technically it is not a true berry, but a cone with unusually fleshy, merged scales.
Known for its diuretic properties, the juniper berry helps alleviate symptoms of bloating and water retention. It also features antimicrobial and antifungal properties, acts as an antioxidant – improving your skin – and helps keep digestion on track.
Tart and sharp, juniper berries boast resinous piny flavours and hints of citrus.
Try it in: Mumbai Chai
Hundreds of potentially healing substances have been identified in liquorice.
This root appears to enhance immunity by boosting levels of interferon – a key immune system chemical that fights off attacking viruses. It also contains powerful antioxidants, and has an aspirin-like action that is helpful in relieving fevers and painful headaches. Liquorice also helps control respiratory problems and sore throat, lessens symptoms of chronic fatigue and helps prevent heart disease.
Its bittersweet, earthy flavour is chased by a salty aftertaste.
Orange peel is arguably the most beneficial component of the fruit.
Orange peels are rich in flavonoids and other phytochemicals, which contribute to many of their health benefits. In addition, orange peel contains higher amounts of nutrients than its flesh – including higher doses of vitamin C. It’s also full of calcium, copper, magnesium, vitamin A and dietary fibre.
Though bitter on its own, orange peel offers a refreshing citrus flavour when added to chai.
Is there an Ayurvedic ingredient you’d like to see incorporated into a Tea Centre blend? Let us know!