19th
Feb
2014

Posted in Kafevend Blog

I've been enjoying a jar of masala chai (mixed spice tea) from Whittards since Christmas, and thought it might be interesting to have a look at some of the spices that go into it. After a little light research, cardamom appears to be the main component of the variety of spices found in masala chai, and so I shall start my search there!

Cardamom is the third most expensive spice in the world after saffron and vanilla. It is often used in cooking for its strong flavour, and goes particularly well with a curry for example. Guatemala is currently the top producer of cardamom on the globe, after it was first introduced there a century ago.

Taxonomic ranking hats on folks! Cardamom is derived from two genera of the ginger family Zingiberaceae: 1) elettaria, or green cardamom, and 2) amomum, which includes the black, brown, red and white varieties in its ranks. As you might expect when there are two major varieties of the same plant, one genus (in this case elettaria) gets all the glory whilst the hardier of the two (amomum) is met with derision and scorn, in this case because it's not from Ceylon. What is it with Ceylon and its enshrined spice species? Remember cinnamon?

As with any popular spice, cardamom has been utilised for perceived medical properties over the centuries. It is used to treat teeth and gum infections, along with sore throats and even tuberculosis. As with any write up about a popular spice's medical properties, I suggest you seek advice from a medical professional.

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