Here is our answer...
A study from 2021 showed over 100 million cups of tea are consumed in Britain every day (UK Tea & Infusions Association , 2023), to put this into another perspective that is a whopping 36 billion cups of tea consumed a year!
Tea is an extremely popular beverage in Britain and many people often associate tea with being the healthier alternative to other drinks such as fizzy drinks and coffee. Although there is truth in this, there are teas and more specifically masala chai or any spiced chai blends that are often packed with lots of sugar to make them taste better which overthrow its herbal benefits.
Take chai or 'chai tea' for example, in its raw form with natural sugars, masala chai has a range of great health benefits due to the spices and tea leaves. In fact, all the ingredients that make up a chai, are all heavily used in Ayurveda to promote a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
When we look at the NHS guidelines with regards to sugar, those that occur naturally in foods such as fruit, milk, and vegetables are not worrisome. The problem is free sugars, those added to food and drink and found naturally in products like syrup, honey, unsweetened fruit, vegetable juices, smoothies, and purées. The government recommends free sugars should not make up more than 5% of the calories consumed from food and drink each day (NHS, 2023). To break this down in simple terms:
Adults should not consume more than 30g of free sugars a day
Children aged 7-10 should not consume more than 24g of free sugars a day.
These guidelines are recommended for people to live a healthier lifestyle and help prevent the risk of developing certain health issues such as diabetes or tooth decay. Therefore, it is always better to stay within those guidelines, however this can sometimes prove more difficult when you are accidentally sneaking in more sugars into your diet than you first thought. After doing extensive market research on popular chai blends, we have found a few things worth noting.
The good news is some companies are transparent about how much sugar they put into the blends; these often range from 6 grams to 15 grams of sugar per cup/serving. Although high in sugar, and perhaps not the most ideal choice if you are looking to stay within the recommended daily allowance, these companies provide the opportunity for you as a consumer to make informed decisions regarding your health.
Unfortunately, there are also some not so transparent brands that claim their chai is a healthy alternative to others branding themselves as ‘lower sugar’ as they technically reduce the amount of sugar in their products by a few grams, yet these products still have a large amount of sugar in them. Again, these products typically range from 3 grams – 12 grams a cup. This can often lead consumers to make uninformed decisions about their health.
These tactics can lead you to start consuming more sugar than you thought especially when you start to drink more than one cup of tea day. The question here is, how do you find authentic chai that does not compromise your health?
Firstly, it might be a good idea to avoid ordering from restaurants and cafes that claim to serve authentic chai lattes and instead serve a milky beverage with a chai concentrate syrup full of sugar.
Secondly, try to opt for a sugar free alternative if it is available at chai markets or quite simply purchase a loose-leaf chai that is transparent about their ingredients and make it in the comfort of your own home. If in doubt, always check the nutritional information on the back of the packaging or ask the server when ordering.
At Wild Chai, our Monsoon Hills Masala chai is sugar free, our blend is naturally sweet due to the level of spice (specifically cardamom and cinnamon) in our chai, you can shop this blend here: