“Chai Tea” Let’s Just Settle the Score Once And For All
Yoga is not the only thing that India gave this world. Chai Tea and IT (information technology) too come from India. But let’s just talk about tea here.
In the North American tea world ‘CHAI’ is the most abused four letter word. Absurd concoctions such as ‘Hickory Licorice Chai’ , ‘Chai Café Latte’, ‘Strawberry, blueberry Oolong chai’ and everything else in between is passed of as ‘fresh thinking’ in Chai. Consuming these concoctions is like expecting McDonalds to serve fine French cuisine. It just doesn’t stick. So I thought of settling this ‘Chai’ thing once and for all.
First, please never ever call Chai ‘Chai Tea’. The word Chai means tea in Hindi language and is a generic word for tea in India, Middle East and most of East Europe. So if you're referring to it as "chai tea," you're essentially saying "tea tea." That's pretty silly.
What we know as chai in North America-- the spicy, milky brew that warms you up to your core -- is actually called masala chai. Masala refers to a combination of spices in Indian cuisine; masala chai then directly translates to spiced tea. Once masala chai made its way across various oceans, it dropped its first name and become lovingly referred to as just chai.
In India each household has its own traditional recipe of making chai. So technically everyone in India can claim to have the authentic Chai flavor. However, there are some staple players in making this brew, namely green cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, fennel, cloves and star anise. Green cardamom is one of the most expensive spices out there, after saffron and is the boldest flavor in most masala chais. After that, one can find (in varying degrees) ginger, cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds, peppercorn, nutmeg and cloves. At least four spices are generally used to make a masala chai, but often times it includes many more. Chai is only made with black tea, a combination of milk (in India they use buffalo milk) and water, then sweetened to make the flavors of the spices pop. The only green tea in India that uses cardamom, saffron and cinnamon is Kashmiri Kahwa and technically that is not Chai as it contains no milk.
In South Asia, masala chai is commonly sold on the street by vendors known as chai wallahs. They blend their own, and you can, too. (You don't have to depend on Starbucks, whose recipe contains more sugar than a Snickers bar.) Making your own blend is easy and promises the perfect chai for your taste. Or try our OM Tea Chai Latte and take the guess work out of making perfect Chai. Between them, these four all natural premium Chais blend natural whole spices I mentioned earlier.
Chais make a great Iced drink. Make chai the traditional way and pour it over ice in a jug or just allow it cool and then chill in a fridge for 4-5 hours before serving in a tall glass with a swirl of whipped cream.