Shorter, colder days make it hard to beat the winter blues. Yet, when the cold weather gets you down, relishing in even the simplest of pleasures can cheer you back up! One of our favorite winter indulgences? Hot, spicy chai lattes.

What’s in a Chai?

‘Chai’ means ‘tea’ in many Eurasian languages, while ‘latte’ is Italian for ‘milk.’ Although it’s redundant to refer to chai as ‘chai tea,’ many use this name to differentiate this spiced tea from other teas!

Another way of referring to chai? ‘Masala chai’—the name used in India, where chai originated. For thousands of years, masala chai consisted solely of a traditional blend of spices—cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, ginger and black pepper—and lacked tealeaves or caffeine. Yet, the 1835 arrival of British tea plantations revolutionized how chai was made. Black tea began being used as a base for masala chai’s spices, paving the way for the chai drinks we enjoy today.

It wasn’t until 1994 that chai gained popularity in U.S. coffeehouses. Baristas put their own spin on chai, mixing the steamed milk of a regular latte with the spiced tea rather than espresso. Milk adds a creaminess and sweetness that balances out chai’s fiery spices, and additional sweetener can be added to taste!

Not Your Average Latte

While tea in India has long been viewed as an herbal medicine rather than just a comforting drink, chai especially has a history of being used to remedy mild ailments. It’s no wonder—the spices in chai offer benefits to boot.

Antioxidant-packed cardamom, cinnamon and ginger reduce risk of cancer and diabetes, fight free radicals to diminish signs of aging and boost immunity—perfect for preventing winter colds! Ginger also aids in digestion and reduces bloating, while black tea provides a caffeine boost to power you through dark winter days. And, chai’s blend of spices stimulates circulation, boosting blood flow to give skin a healthy winter glow!

Spice Up Your Life

Lucky for you—chai lattes are easy to make at home! Simply follow our recipe. Or, for a quicker chai fix, simply steep a masala chai sachet in a mug filled with 60 percent water and 40 percent milk. Sweeten with honey or maple syrup, or further amp up the spice by stirring in a dollop of Speculoos spread. Dip gingerbread biscuits for the perfect winter treat!

What are you waiting for? Go treat yourself to a chai latte, now being served at your local LPQ.