Cardamom is a spice extremely important in Indian cuisine. Both curry and masala chai would not be the same without it. In fact, it’s so important it’s often called the “Queen of Spices”. This spice with a strong and distinctive flavor gives a unique note that’s not easy to describe. Pungent, spicy, sweet, peppery, even floral and refreshing, and a must in every soothing tea recipe blended with spices.
What is cardamom?
Cardamom is a plant used in traditional medicines, and as a popular spice for cooking and making tea. It has a distinctive spicy flavor that’s easily recognizable even in blends that contain many other ingredients. Cardamom is a basic ingredient in Indian curries and Indian chai masala tea. This comes as no surprise, as this spice is native to India. However, today it’s growing in other countries too. Interestingly, cardamom belongs to the same botanical family as ginger and turmeric – Zingiberaceae.
There are two types of cardamom – green and black. Green cardamom or Elettaria cardamomum, often called the true cardamom, is used for tea blends and for cooking. It has small green pods with seeds. Green cardamom has a very unique, spicy and slightly sweet flavor. It’s available as:
- dried cardamom pods with seeds,
- extracted cardamom seeds without pods,
- fine powder,
- essential oil
- cardamom supplements
What is black cardamom?
Black cardamom or Amomum subulatum is another type of cardamom with bigger, dark brown pods. It has a different scent and flavor from green cardamom and is usually used in savory dishes. The smokier scent and flavor that may not appeal to everyone. It’s less suitable for making chai tea and desserts. However, black cardamom can still be used for making tea and may offer some health benefits too.
How to Make Cardamom Tea
To make cardamom tea you will need either black or green cardamom pods. Cardamom has a very strong flavor, and often a few pods will be enough for a strong cup of tea. To get the most flavor out of cardamom pods, gently crush them first. Use about 3-6 pods per cup of water. In a small saucepan, bring fresh spring water to a boil. Add crushed cardamom pods, reduce heat and boil them for about 15 minutes. Strain, add sugar or honey if needed, and serve.
Cardamom and other spices
Cardamom blends very well with other spices such as ginger or cinnamon. You can use it for making a comforting herbal milk tea by brewing cardamom pods and other spices in hot water. Boil them on low heat for 15-20 minutes. In another saucepan, heat and froth the milk. Strain the tea into a cup and add frothed milk. Alternatively, boil the spices on low heat in milk directly, strain, add brown sugar or honey and serve.
Cardamom black tea
Cardamom black tea is the most simple type of chai tea you can make at home. Brew a cup of strong tea using Assam black tea leaves mixed with slightly crushed cardamom pods. Strain, add the milk if needed and serve.
Learn how to make a real chai tea with spices.
Health Benefits of Drinking
Cardamom is an important spice not only because of its interesting flavor. It has anti oxidative, antimicrobial and anti inflammatory properties and may offer many health benefits.
Studies showed that green cardamom may help lower bad cholesterol in blood. This spice if is often used for gastrointestinal problems. Studies showed that black cardamom may improve intestinal health, and green cardamom may help relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome such as stomach cramps and pain. Green cardamom may have a significant antibacterial activity, and may help fighting different strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.
Pure cardamom tea is a herbal tea, and it’s caffeine free so it’s suitable for any time of the day or night. However, when blended with real tea leaves, for example green or black tea, it will always contain caffeine. The caffeine content will depend on the type of tea and the brewing method. Expect 20-6 mg of caffeine per cup of cardamom green or cardamom black tea.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Every person is different and may react to different herbs and teas differently. Never use teas or herbs to treat serious medical conditions on your own. Always seek professional medical advice before choosing home remedies.