The good, bad, and ugly facets of ‘chai’ (plus, some forbidden combinations with milk tea)

"Let’s talk about chai that we all seem to love a tad bit more than we should," Dr Dimple Jangda wrote on Instagram

Chai is something most of us like to begin our mornings with, and it is also the beverage we long for during the afternoon or evening for that much-needed kick on a hectic day. In India, chai — for many people — is not a beverage, it is an emotion. As such, the brew can be prepared in myriad ways to suit the many taste buds — black tea, masala tea, milk tea, adrak and elaichi waali chai, tandoori chai, and many more. But is tea healthy and suitable for consumption by everyone?

Talking about this and the many other facets of this favoured drink is Dr Dimple Jangda, an Ayurveda and gut health coach, who took to Instagram to share a video that she captioned: “Let’s talk about chai (milk tea) that we all seem to love a tad bit more than we should. Here is the good, bad, ugly and the forbidden combinations with milk tea.”

The good :

– According to Dr Jangda, tea has polyphenols, which are excellent for digestion, diabetes, weight management, and a whole lot of cardiovascular health issues.
– She added that the spices used to prepare tea — cinnamon, cardamom, clove, grated ginger, black pepper, star anise — help boost the body’s immunity. “The spices in chai are anti-inflammatory, anti bacterial and good for your overall health,” she said.

The bad:

– “It’s the sugar that you put excessively in it, which gets absorbed in your blood stream quickly and gives you a jolt of energy,” she wrote, adding that the the subsequent crash, when the effect of sugar fades, “leaves you feeling low on energy, and thus craving for more chai.” This, she said, is a “cyclical addiction pattern” and causes withdrawal symptoms like headache, depressed moods, low energy, and fatigue. “Besides, the sugar negatively impacts your gut and causes stomach-related ailments,” she wrote in the caption

The ugly:

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– The tannins from the poor quality tea leaves, when excessively is released into the milk, causing acidity in your stomach. “Besides milk should not be over cooked with tea leaves,” she warned.

“tea, when prepared with double-toned milk, will help in curbing  hunger and is thus beneficial for weight loss. However, studies have found that the protein in milk may negatively interact with tea, reducing the activity of polyphenols and ultimately decreasing their benefits.” The expert added how the negative interaction is seen both ways, as the nutrition of your milk also dips down. “Additionally, tea, being naturally acidic, could potentially trigger acidity in some people,” she mentioned.

Another aspect of tea that can be concerning is the addiction, Vandana Punjabi, consultant dermatologist, pointed out. “Chai gets very addictive, and if you drink a lot of it every day, it can disturb your sleep because it reduces melatonin. Acidity and heartburn are other common problem associated with excess consumption of milk tea,” she explains.

In her post, Dr Jangda also suggested some tips:

☕️ Ensure to consume tea within 10 minutes of preparation. Do not reheat it.
☕️ Avoid combining snacks that are sour and salty, with your milk tea. These include lemon and tangerine fruits, tomato ketchup, deep fried foods, because it causes the milk to break in your stomach, thus causing bloating and gas.
☕️Do not cook the milk in the tea concoction as it turns acidic. Instead, add hot milk (plant-based or dairy-based milk sourced from a cruelty free cow farm only), into your cup of black tea directly.

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“While going on a detox, I always advice clients to wean off any kind of caffeine, and eventually snap out of such addictive cyclical food habits that create dependence, stimulate the body (nervous system) at the cost of your mind,” she further wrote.

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