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What is Chai?

Chai, a beloved Indian beverage, combines black tea, spices, milk and sweeteners. The word "chai" is a shortened form of "masala chai," meaning "spiced tea" in Hindi. While the specific spices can vary by region, they usually include cinnamon, cardamom, clove, ginger and peppercorns.

Masala chai is renowned for its delightful combination of warm, robust, spicily sweet flavors and a luscious, creamy texture that has earned the admiration of tea connoisseurs worldwide. While the specific components used to craft masala chai may differ based on geographic location or individual family traditions, they generally encompass the following categories:

  • Chai Tea: Chai usually contains a strong black tea, such as Darjeeling or Assam. However, green teas and red teas may also be used to make chai.

  • Spices: In India, chai is commonly made using spices such as cardamom, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and peppercorns. Star anise, fennel, nutmeg, vanilla, and other imperial spices are also popular ingredients.

  • Milk: In India, chai is often made using buffalo milk. Cow milk is most common in North America, along with dairy alternatives like almond milk and soy milk.

  • Sweetener: Honey and sugar are typically used to sweeten masala chai in India, but you may use any sweetener of your choice.

Due to the absence of a fixed chai recipe, this delectable drink can be customized and adjusted to match your personal tastes. Chai can be crafted to be bold and rich with spices, sweet and velvety, or have a more earthy and savory quality- it all depends on how you prepare it!

History of Chai

Chai tea has a rich history dating back 5,000 years, originating as an herbal remedy in Ayurvedic alternative medicine. In its early form, Indian chai consisted solely of spices, devoid of tea leaves, and was used for promoting digestion, alleviating pain, and enhancing circulation.

During the 19th century, the British colonization of India brought about a significant transformation. They introduced local cultivation of the Camellia sinensis tree to produce black tea and blended it with milk and sugar, resulting in the globally popular chai as we know it today.

In India, chai is deeply intertwined with daily life. "Chai wallahs," street vendors, offer freshly brewed masala chai in public spaces, even on trains and buses. Chai is a common breakfast companion in Indian households.

Chai tea has surged in popularity in recent years, thanks to its potential health benefits and unique flavor. Beyond the traditional black tea chai, variations like green tea chai and rooibos chai have emerged.

Caffeine content of Chai

Chai is typically crafted with black tea, which contains approximately half the caffeine of a cup of coffee of a similar size. On average, a six-ounce serving of black tea provides around 50 milligrams of caffeine, which is significantly less than the caffeine content in a cup of brewed coffee.

Alternatively, chai can also be prepared using green tea, which contains roughly one-fourth the amount of caffeine as a similarly sized cup of coffee, or rooibos, a naturally caffeine-free option. If you have a heightened sensitivity to caffeine, it's advisable to select one of these lower-caffeine alternatives.

Health benefits of Chai

The potential health advantages of chai tea are influenced by the specific tea and spices employed. Traditional black tea chai, typically infused with ingredients like cinnamon, cardamom, clove, ginger, and black pepper, may offer anti-inflammatory properties, aid digestion, assist in regulating blood sugar, and promote cardiovascular well-being.

How to Steep Chai

Steeping isn't hard. Simply heat fresh, filtered water to a rolling boil, then pour the water over the tea and steep for 3-5 minutes. Remove the tea bag or infuser, add milk and your sweetener of choice (such as honey or agave), and enjoy sip by sip. Alternatively, you may prepare chai by steeping the tea in a combination of water and milk, or even in milk alone. However, be careful not to scald the milk.

Chai Recipes

There are many chai based recipes. Keep an eye on our blog for chai recipes!

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