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All about Chai

Chai Wallah
Photo By: Krishnavedala
The three humors in Ayurveda and the five great elements that they are composed of.

The Chinese had two words for tea; 荼 (tú) and 茶 (chá). In Europe "tú" eventually became "tea" in English, "thé" in French, "tee" in German, and so forth. But in most of the rest of the world "chá" was used as the root for "Chai". Interestingly "trà" is tea in Vietnamese, which seems to be a combination of both.

So as you can see, chai simply means tea. However, when English speakers say "chai" they are most certainly referring to "masala chai", which means "spiced tea" and is a common drink in India.

The spices used can be almost anything, but in general they include ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and black pepper. (These are the ingredients we use in our blend.) These spices are combined with Assam CTC black tea and added to simmering milk with honey or sugar. The mixture is then strained before serving.

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Thumbnail of Masala Spice Mix | Organic
We use these spices for mixing our various Chai blends. You can drink it on its own for a caffeine free Chai experience, or add it to tea you already have to make your own chai.
Thumbnail of Cinnamon Chips | Organic
Thumbnail of Cinnamon Granules | Organic
Thumbnail of Cardamom Pods | Organic
Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic, resinous fragrance. It is a common ingredient in Indian cooking and is often used in baking in the Nordic countries, in particular in Sweden and Finland, where it is used in traditional treats such as Finnish sweet bread pulla and in the Scandinavian Christmas bread Julekake.

In the Middle East, green cardamom powder is used as a spice for sweet dishes, as well as traditional flavoring in coffee and tea.

We use these to blend our Masala Chai | Organic, Cardamom Black, and Chai Spice Mix | Organic
Thumbnail of Clove | Organic
Thumbnail of Ginger Root | Organic
Thumbnail of Black Peppercorns | Organic
We use this blend of peppercorns to make our chai spice blend.
Thumbnail of Assam CTC | Organic
Crush, Tear, and Curl is a method of processing black tea. However instead of the leaves being rolled at a final stage (as a orthodox Assam is), they are passed through a series of cylindrical rollers with hundreds of small sharp "teeth" that crush, tear, and curl the tea. This process removes many of the more tannic parts of the plant, and therefore is great for boiling in water or milk for making chai.
Thumbnail of Coriander Seed | Organic

Tea

A strong Assam or Ceylon black tea is often used when making chai. Black tea works well because it is not overpowered by the spices and sweeteners. That does not mean other types cant be used, in Kashmir chai is sometimes made with gunpowder green tea, and for a caffeine free variation Rooibos can be used.

Spices

Almost all masala chai has ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and clove as basic ingredients. Other "warm" spices commonly used are star anise, peppercorns, fennel, vanilla, chocolate, nutmeg, cocoa, licorice, mint, and rose.

Milk

Whole milk is used for its richness, but non-dairy milk (soy, rice, hemp, almond) will also do.

Sweetener

Don't limit yourself to white sugar, though it is often used. Experiment with the caramelized notes from brown sugar, the more complex slight acidity of honey, or the healthy sweetness of agave.