Chai tea, cha tea or masala chai is the same thing. It's spiced tea. While herbal teas use herbs, cha tea uses spices and milk.
Actually the word chai or cha means tea among the Chinese and in most of South Asian countries. The original masala chai originates in India. The traditional way of preparation is by boiling loose black tea leaves. Milk, sugar and one or more spices are then added to the tea. Some of the spices used are cardamom, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, star anise and nutmegs.
It's up to the individual to choose his chose of spices and sweeteners. Instead of sugar, you can add honey, stevia, palm sugar or just sweetened condensed milk. You can drink it hold or cold.
Cha tea has become a trendy beverage. If you go to coffee houses such as Starbucks, you can order a chai latte. It is spiced tea added with steamed milk and flavored with spiced tea concentrate. You can also make your own chai latte because the drink mix is easily available at most of the grocery stores.
You can now also purchase cha tea that are already prepared and sold in tea bags. What you need to do is add water. Some of them require that you to add sugar and milk because they aren't added to the products.
The benefits of chai tea come from the black tea leaves and also the spices. Although you can also make this spiced tea using green tea, black tea is still the preferred choice for most people.
Black tea, green tea and oolong tea comes from the same plant. But black tea is fully oxidized while green tea is unoxidized. Due to the oxidation process of the tea leaves, they turn black and attain the unique flavor and strength. The process also results in a higher amount of caffeine compared to green, white tea and oolong tea. Caffeine may provide calm and focused effect and allow you to feel more relaxed.
Black tea has also antioxidant properties, which is very helpful in fighting free radicals. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti allergy properties which may help people with joints problem and those who are allergic. And it has lower amount of tannins compared to green tea. Tannins deplete serotonin, iron and calcium. One of the benefits of adding milk to cha tea is because milk is a good source of iron and calcium.
Those are the benefits you get from the black tea. Now here are the benefits of the spices that are usually blended into chai tea.