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Chai vs Chia: Whats the Difference Between Them?
If you’re a fan of delicious and healthy foods, you’ve likely come across the words “chai” and “chia” on menus, in recipes, or while browsing the grocery store.
These two terms might sound similar, but they actually refer to very different things.
I will explore the differences between chai and chia, their unique characteristics, and how they can enhance your recipes and overall well-being.
Chai – The Aromatic Indian Tea
Let’s start with chai, a delightful and aromatic beverage that originated in India.
The word chai is the Hindi word for “tea,” which is derived from “cha,” the Chinese word for tea.
Chai can also be referred to as Masala Chai or Spiced Chai since “chai tea” translates to “tea tea.”
The term for chai is a mixture of whole spices or “masala”, steeped into a hot tea beverage creating the spiced tea we all know.
The beginning of chai dates back more than 5,000 years ago in the Assam region of India.
Legend says an Indian king combined a medley of warm spices and turned them into a drink for medicinal purposes.
Masala chai, or masala tea is known for its rich aroma and complexity of flavors.
It uses common spices for the chai blend such as whole cloves, fennel seeds, ginger, star anise and black pepper to promote digestion and improve circulation, among other health benefits.
The aroma of this Indian tea is hard to mistake as it is pungent and sweet all at once!
Typically, chai is sweetened black tea with sugar or other sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, commonly in coffee shops, to balance out the spices.
The classic preparation involves simmering black tea leaves and spices together in water and then adding hot milk and sweetener.
Nowadays, chai tea bags are also available, providing a convenient way to enjoy a cup of chai without the need for extensive preparation.
There is no need to go to the coffee shop when you can make a low carb homemade chai concentrate to have on hand anytime the craving strikes.
Have a Low Carb Iced Chai Tea Latte with a lot less sugar than the pre-made ones!
I walk you through making your own Low Carb Iced Chai Tea Latte Recipe where I use a chai tea bag instead of loose spices, and sugar free sweetener to not spike your blood sugar levels.
You can make your chai tea wether iced or hot, and dairy free when you use oat milk, cashew milk, unsweetened almond milk, or any kind of milk you want.
Whatever great additions you choose to add in, it will go well with the Indian chai beverage.
As long as you get the creamy consistency to mellow out the strong black teas flavor then you got it right!
The Health Benefits of The Chai Spice Combo
Aside from its delightful taste and aroma, chai offers several health benefits through its combination of chai spices typically found in Indian recipes for this delicious recipe.
The blend of black tea in chai contains antioxidants called polyphenols, which have been linked to heart health and may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
You can also substitute the black tea with your own favorite tea such as an herbal tea or green tea for less caffiene but all the flavor!
Additionally, the spices in chai, such as ginger and cinnamon, have anti-inflammatory properties and fennel seeds can support digestive health.
Chia – The Nutrient-Rich Edible Seed
Now let’s turn our attention to chia, a versatile and nutrient-rich seed that has gained popularity in recent years.
Chia seeds come from a plant called Salvia hispanica or Salvia columbariae, native to South America and the Southwestern US.
Both produce seeds that are then used commercially and sold.
You may remember them from the 70s and 80s commercial featuring chia pets.
You would mix the seeds with some hot water then smear the gooey paste onto a terra cotta shape to grow!
These small seeds not only create impressive “hair” for terra cotta planters, but also pack a nutritional punch, offering an array of healthful properties with a unique nutty flavor.
You can find them in the typical black seed, or white seed and sometimes combined but all have the same nutritional profiles.
They are about half the size of hemp seeds but bigger than poppy seeds.
Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, with just one ounce (about 2 tablespoons) providing a significant portion of your recommended daily intake.
You have to hydrate them though in order to unlock the fatty acids and nutrients contained in the seed casing.
For a one ounce serving of chia seeds you get 10g fiber content along with 9g healthy fat, and 5g protein.
Since they contain plant-based protein, healthy fats, and various vitamins and minerals, chia seeds make a great addition to your low carb diet.
Chia seeds can be used in numerous ways including the popular method of making chia seed pudding, a creamy and delicious breakfast or snack.
This is one of the great ways to enjoy this tiny seed with a lot of flavor as the seed itsself is quite bland.
To make chia pudding, simply mix chia seeds with your liquid of choice, such as non-dairy milk (like almond, oat, or coconut milk) or even water.
My favorite is to use coconut milk for a coconut chia pudding.
For best results, allow the mixture to sit for a few hours or overnight, and the chia seeds will absorb the liquid, creating a pudding-like consistency.
Use 1/4 cup chia seeds, 1 cup coconut milk , coconut cream or milk of choice and 1 tsp of liquid monkfruit sweetener for a basic recipe.
You can customize your chia pudding by adding flavors like vanilla extract, cocoa powder, or sweeteners such as coconut sugar or maple syrup.
You do not even need to use milk as your liquid.
Easily substitute it out with 1 cup water or tea to forgo the creamy aspect.
The possibilities are endless to jazz up your chia creation!
Get creative with your favorite toppings, such as fresh fruits, nuts, or even a drizzle of honey.
Take it to another level when you create a chai latte chia pudding by using prepared chia tea with creamer as your liquid.
Make the chai up first with your milk of choice, before you make the chai chia pudding, then measure out into the jar before letting it sit overnight.
It creates the most flavorful creamy chia pudding with a ton of chai flavor!
Look to this little seed to create a healthy make-ahead breakfast with when you are interested in weight loss as it will keep you full for hours!
Chai vs Chia: The Verdict
To summarize, chai and chia are entirely different but equally delightful culinary ingredients.
Chai is a flavorful Indian tea blend made with black tea leaves and a combination of sweet spices.
It offers a unique aroma, promotes heart health, and contains anti-inflammatory properties.
On the other hand, chia seeds are edible seeds packed with fiber, protein, and a way to create a gel like pudding for added hydration plus fiber!
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