The differences between Chai vs Chia are actually quite a lot. These two superfoods have very similar spellings, so they can be easily confused. Chai is pronounced (CH-EYE) and Chia is pronounced (CHEE-UH). This is a common typo when the fingers move too fast on the keyboard (or when auto-correct gets the best of us).
Nevertheless, we will break it down for you here in this article. We happen to love Chai and Chia for their many delicious uses and health benefits!
What is Chai?
Chai Tea and Chai Latte are two common menu items that you may be familiar with seeing at your local coffee shop. Chai is a uniquely flavored black tea. The chai flavor comes from its tea leaves being infused with chai spices. Chai is actually derived from the Hindi word Cha which means tea.
Masala Chai is the correct term for this deliciously spiced drink. While Chai means Tea, Masala means Spiced. Technically speaking, the Chai Latte alone is black tea and milk, while Masala Chai is the traditional drink with the perfect spice combo.
The sweet spices that make up the Masala Chai are cracked black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves. Some variations also include additional spices like nutmeg, tulsi, saffron, rose, fennel, or star anise.
Making a Chai Tea Latte
You may use a chai tea bag that is already prepared or infused with spices. There are also loose-leaf chai blends you can purchase.
(We highly advise avoiding commercially bleached tea bags as they can leech chemicals into your tea!)
However, to experience the best quality, the most health benefits, and the authentic aroma of this Indian tea would be to make it fresh with loose-leaf organic black tea leaves and grind your own organic whole spices. You can use an electric spice grinder similar to a coffee bean grinder or a traditional mortar and pestle.
Add the spices to a saucepan and mix with hot water. For best results, be sure to not add actively boiling water as it could cause the tea to become bitter. Add the tea leaves with the spices and water and let steep for 10 minutes.
Mix it with your milk of choice. In India, the kind of milk traditionally used is whole milk. The more milk you add, the richer the flavor.
For non-dairy milk, consider using almond milk, cashew milk, coconut cream, coconut milk, or oat milk. Bring the milk and tea to a simmer to blend the flavors. Then, mix in your choice of sweetener and give it a good stir. Indian Masala Chai is made using cane sugar (called jaggery).
You can also use coconut sugar, agave nectar, or maple syrup. The avoid spiking blood sugar levels, you can also use a natural sugar free sweetener like stevia or monk fruit. In order to avoid synthetic and unhealthy additives, be sure to read the ingredients on the labels!
Lastly, strain the tea with a fine mesh strainer into a small saucepan and serve. Yum!Organic Positively Tea Comp...Shop on Amazon Blue Lotus Chai - Tradition...Shop on Amazon FGO Organic Chai Tea, Eco-C...Shop on Amazon
Health Benefits of Chai
While enjoying the exotic flavor and aroma of your perfectly prepared cup of deliciousness, you may be delighted to know of its incredible benefits to your health!
Masala Chai is rich in antioxidants that come from its tea leaves as well as its exquisite spices. These antioxidants help to boost heart health, prevent degenerative diseases and cancer, and reverse the signs of aging.
The catechins in tea have antiviral properties while spices like ginger have antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties help to reduce inflammation, fight off infections, and improve immunity and dental health.
There is also a moderate amount of caffeine in Chai that may also help to reduce headaches or migraine pain. That sounds pretty amazing to me! Cheers!
What is Chia?
Chia is a flowering plant in the mint family that comes from central Mexico called Salvia hispanica, or from the Southwestern US called Salvia columbariae. The hispanica strain is the one that was used to produce the ever-popular chia pets of the 80s that sprouted through holes in a pet-looking pot.
In Mayan, Chia means "Strength" because the Mayan warriors would use these seeds as fuel for endurance during battle.
Chia seeds have a nutty flavor and when hydrated, are easily digestible when prepared properly.
Check out this article on super seeds hemp vs chia vs flax seeds.
Proper Preparation of Chia
While you can eat whole, dried chia seeds, it is advisable to prepare them. by hydrating them. This little seed can hold up to 12 times its weight in water. When you soak your seeds they "sprout". A gel-like substance surrounds the seed as it sprouts. The enzymes that protect the seed are released which improves digestibility as well as absorption.
The protection of seeds are anti-nutrients that protect them from the elements during growth. When consumed these antinutrients may also prevent the absorption of vital nutrients which is one of the main reasons it is always best to soak.
Another reason is the incredibly healthy fats that soaked chia provides.
To soak your seeds, mix 1 & ½ TBS of seeds with 1 cup of liquid. You can use purified water, juice, or milk depending on your purposes for the seeds. Let them soak for ½-2 hours at least and use as desired.
Uses for Chia Seeds
Chia seeds can be made into a drink, jelly, pudding, or mixed into protein bars for an extra nutritional boost! Interestingly, hydrated chia seeds also work as a vegan egg alternative in recipes. No kidding!
Chia seeds can also be ground into a powder and used as a gluten-free flour substitute for baked goods like pancakes or muffins. The culinary uses and possibilities are many!Organic Chia Seeds - Plant-...Shop on Amazon Terrasoul Superfoods Organi...Shop on Amazon
Health Benefits of Chia
It contains a nutrient called Alpha-linoleic acid which has been shown to play a role in balancing blood sugar levels.
Just as it was popular with the Mayans, it can help to increase energy, strength, and exercise performance and recovery due to its high protein, vitamin, and mineral content. Naturally, these minerals also improve bone and dental health among many other critical processes in the body.
As you can see, these two similarly spelled superfoods have many differences but a few things in common. The incredible health benefits. Chia has many culinary and medicinal uses that have been utilized around the world for centuries!
Do you use Chai or Chia in your daily routine? How have you experienced their benefits? Let us know in the comments below!