What is Chai Tea?
The influx of custom in coffee and tea shops around the UK and in fact around the world has seen our well-known ability to tolerate long queues put to the test. Perhaps you have been in this position and found yourself aimlessly looking for some source of entertainment as you gradually waddle towards the counter. Above the noise of the coffee machines, your eyes have likely scoured the blackboard menus covered in new and fascinating brews like Chai Tea you have never heard of or even thought to try.
Usually near the top is the particularly familiar name, ‘Chai Latte’; a blend of black tea and a vast number of aromatic spices that has only very recently taken the west by storm. Already, many industry analysts are predicting that these beverages may eventually become as popular and common as coffee lattes and cappuccinos, but it is far from a new invention.
Its association with the west may have only properly begun in the 1990’s, but over 5,000 miles away, on the Indian subcontinent, variations of this brew have long been woven into the fabric of local life for many centuries. Yet these commercial products bear an only minimal resemblance to the age-old tradition of Indian chai consumption.
If you have been lucky enough to visit India, you will already know that ‘masala chai’ tea, as it is officially known, has taken on a life force of its own. From region to region; village to village; and even household to household, chai beverages greatly differ in recipes and are not only drinks to be casually enjoyed on a sunny afternoon, but are, in fact, an integral part of Indian society. But how does a simple tea have such an important role in culture and tradition? And why, after thousands of years, has it only now become popular in the UK?
What is Chai Tea?
The chai tea that is largely known and loved today consists of black tea leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant (or ‘tea plant’), combined with a number of herbs and spices predominantly native to India. Traditional chai tea blends typically include cardamom (or cardamom seed), cinnamon, cloves, ginger root, peppercorn, star anise, and turmeric. Others may also consider the addition of fennel, ginseng, lemongrass, liquorice root, and nutmeg. Yet, this is just to name a few.
To describe the taste and aroma of chai tea is almost impossible owing to the fact that so many variations exist, and that no two recipes are ever the same. However, for those who haven’t yet tried this brew, you can expect a wonderfully bold flurry of flavour dancing on your palate with every sip. (To find out more information on our wide selection of Chai Tea blends and their respective tasting notes, please continue reading).
Chai tea blends vary depending on the area of India in which you enjoy them. Many of these recipes also include milk and sugar, although chai tea can also be consumed without such accompaniments.
In many towns and villages in the northern state of Rajasthan, for example, chai tea is often made with camel’s milk. In Kolkata, meanwhile the capital of West Bengal, buffalo’s milk is usually added. In stark contrast, a recipe found in the state of Jammu and Kashmir sees chai tea turn bright pink with the incorporation of salt. Alas, it is not even uncommon to add a dollop of butter, but unsurprisingly, this is an acquired taste.
Unfortunately, there remains a great class division in much of India, with chai teas using milk and sugar typically (although not always) associated with the working classes, while finer quality brews are often reserved for the ‘upper’ classes. Naturally, as of 2017, there are many exceptions to this ‘rule’. Ultimately, it depends on your personal taste.
The incredible versatility of chai teas ensure that if there is one recipe you are not particularly fond of, there is likely another you will absolutely adore! From Cutting Chai to Irani Chai; Darjeeling Chai to Assam Chai, and then, of course, Masala Chai, the possibilities are almost endless.
There is a very common misconception surrounding chai tea’s name. Despite the term ‘Chai Tea’ being most used throughout the western hemisphere, in the Hindi language - as well as countless others, ‘chai’ actually means ‘tea’ in itself. This means that, for decades, when you order a ‘Chai Tea’ you are, in fact, ordering a cup of tea.
Other languages that pronounce tea as ‘chai’ include Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Persian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Turkish, and Urdu. Meanwhile, languages with variations on the word ‘chai’, but still pronounce it in a similar manner, include Croatian (čaj), Czech (čaj), Georgian (ch’ai), Greek (tsái), Romanian (ceai), Serbian (čaj), Thai (chā), and Ukrainian (chay). Astoundingly, there are many more! All these variations originally stem from the Mandarin Chinese word, ‘chá’ (茶). The far more fitting term ‘Masala Chai’, on the other hand, can be translated from Hindi to literally mean ‘spiced tea’ (मसालेदार चाय).
Chai Tea Ingredients
To understand the invention of masala chai teas is to understand each respective ingredient as a separate entity. Almost every single one of these ingredients has, at one stage or another, had a closely knit history with the Indian practice of Ayurveda, an age-old belief system closely associated with holistic healing.
To this day, it is believed that nearly 80% of rural populations in India continue to regard Ayurvedic Medicine as a vital component of society. It largely contributes to the Indian rhythm of life, with particular food and lifestyle choices being the two main elements to account for when it comes to practicing this ancient tradition.
A variety of herbs and spices are often used to balance one’s ‘doshas’, which are energies that make up every individual and work together to perform physiological functions in the body. These three doshas are the ‘Vata’ dosha, the ‘Pitta’ dosha and the ‘Kapha’ dosha. The Vata dosha is the energy that controls bodily functions associated with motion, including blood circulation, blinking, breathing, and the heartbeat.
The Pitta dosha, meanwhile, is the energy that controls the body’s metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and the body’s temperature. Finally, there is the Kapha dosha, which is the energy that controls growth in the body, as well as supplying water to all the body parts, moisturising the skin, and maintaining the immune system.
Chai teas are the perfect answer to dosha harmony. The ingredients used in these beverages have the ability to balance these doshas and, according to Ayurveda, provide nourishment to the mind, body, and soul. With no two blends the same, The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company has examined just some of the traditional ingredients used in a multitude of chai tea recipes:
Loose Leaf Black Tea
Black tea has been used and enjoyed for centuries. However, despite its worldwide popularity, it is still a relative ‘newcomer’ compared with the likes of green tea. The unmistakeable difference between green tea and black tea is in the processing method applied to their respective productions.
Tea leaves used in the production of black tea are allowed to fully oxidise before they are heat-processed and dried. Green tea, by contrast, undergoes minimal oxidation. Many chai tea recipes use black tea from the well-known Indian state of Assam. This region was the birthplace of Indian tea, with most tea leaves harvested from the Camellia sinensis var assamica plant, an Indian variety of the tea plant related to the Chinese equivalent, Camellia sinensis var sinensis.
Black tea was not in existence during the time that Ayurvedic Medicine was first established, but it has since been ‘adopted’, and is now also used in the balancing of the three doshas. It should also be noted that in some regions of India, green tea or gunpowder green tea is used instead of black tea in the blending of a masala chai.
This spice is made from the seeds of several plants in the genera Elettaria and Amomum. It actually belongs to the ginger family (Zingiberaceae), and has been a staple of Indian diets for thousands of years. In fact, it is considered one of the world’s oldest spices. It remains a very popular ingredient used in teas (both ‘regular’ teas and herbal teas) and curries, and is easily recognisable by its distinct, bold, and slightly sweet flavour.
During the 19th Century, in particular, cardamom’s popularity soared as British colonists in India set up large-scale plantations specifically catered to the cultivation of the plant. However, even before this period, cardamom was highly revered in Ayurvedic Medicine. Cardamom is considered a ‘tridoshic’, which essentially means it is good for balancing all three doshas.
Although a spice, Cinnamon is actually bark from several trees belonging to the Cinnamomum genus. This genus, in turn, belongs to the Lauraceae family. Despite its widespread use, the origins of this spice are largely unknown to this day. It was a popular commodity among Arab merchants, and in order to maintain their monopoly on the cinnamon trade, they would often weave notably colourful tales as to how it first came to be.
According to one particularly bewildering legend, cinnamon sticks were once guarded and protected by gigantic birds who would often hide the spice atop of high mountain peaks. When humans discovered its existence, they began to leave large pieces of ox meat to entice the birds out of their nests. Eventually, the birds would take the meat to their perches which would weigh down their nests so much that the cinnamon sticks would fall to the ground. All that was then left was for the humans to collect it.
Unsurprisingly, there is no truth behind this tale, but whatever its origins may be, Cinnamon has long been incorporated into Chai Teas in India. The complex flavour of this spice often transcends these recipes, offering a fascinating taste somewhere between bitter and sweet.
While Cinnamon is inner tree bark, cloves are actually flower buds from the Syzygium aromaticum tree, belonging to the Myrtaceae family. Cloves provide one of the most powerful flavours in the world of spice. They are strong, pungent, sweet, yet astringent, and offer a warming sensation to the palate. Suffice to say, their unique taste is very much distinguishable when blended in Chai Tea.
In Ayurveda, meanwhile, cloves are frequently used when balancing the Vata and Pitta Doshas. It is thought to enhance circulation, digestion, and the metabolism, and is a favoured ingredient when it comes to stomach disorders such as gas, bloating, and nausea. In modern science, these medicinal qualities have actually been proven.
Ginger is another ingredient that needs little introduction. In fact, compared with countless other spices of Asian origin, this particular herb of the Zingiberaceae family has been known in the west for at least 2,000 years.
Today, ginger is included in a wide variety of household and commercial products, including, of course, Chai Tea. Its flavours largely consist of almost tangy notes, which are often very prominent when incorporated into these delicious brews.
Traditional Ayurvedic texts refer to ginger’s usage to remedy almost any ailment then prevalent in Indian society. Such was (and still is) its widespread use that, according to Ayurvedic Medicine, Ginger Root could have the ability to balance all three doshas. Most commonly, it can be applied to the Pitta dosha, and is a great choice when improving digestion. Alas, it seems as if little has changed today.
Peppercorns are arguably one of the most popular spices in the world. In many Chai Teas recipes, meanwhile, they are equally vital. Black pepper is a flowering vine in the Piperaceae family. It is widely cultivated for its fruit which, when dried, can be used as a seasoning for almost any savoury dish.
Most people are well accustomed to the taste of black peppercorns, while its addition to many Chai Tea recipes enhances the already defined spicy tastes. When it comes to Ayurveda, peppercorns are considered an all-important healing spice. It is said to have the ability to ‘pacify’ both the Vata and Kapha doshas, as well as increasing the Pitta dosha. It helps the free flow of oxygen to the brain, enhances digestion and circulation, stimulates the appetite, and helps maintain respiratory system health.
Star Anise is the seed pod from the fruit of the Illicium verum tree. It is as beautiful as it is delicious and goes beyond the boundaries of Indian tradition to play an important role in Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese cultures.
Despite the misleading name, it is not, in fact, related to the aniseed plant, although its flavour is comparable. This is owing to a compound known as ‘anethole’, which is responsible for the liquorice-like taste of both ingredients. Enjoying star anise in a Masala Chai adds sweetness with slightly herbaceous undertones. It is also recognised in Ayurveda as an excellent digestive aid, and is used to treat ailments such as nausea, vomiting, and gastric distress.
Known as ‘the spice of life’, turmeric is the third and final commonly used ingredient in chai teas that belongs to the ginger family. Its sharp, earthy, bitter taste makes it an especially unique, yet equally scrumptious addition to a masala chai.
It is also often enjoyed as a standalone, Turmeric Tea (Please see our blog on Turmeric Tea). Ayurvedic Medicine recognises turmeric as a tridoshic, similar to Cardamom. According to its practice, this spice can assist with digestion, support the immune system, and offer liver detoxification, just to name a few.
Whether you are looking to balance your Vata, Pitta, or Kapha doshas, turmeric might just be the perfect choice. It is likewise valued in modern science due to a truly incredible component in turmeric known as ‘curcumin’. This naturally occurring chemical compound is a powerful antioxidant that can combat the damage caused by oxidation in the body.
This means that while Ayurvedic Medicine may, to some, be considered ‘outdated’, it actually turns out that when it comes to turmeric, all of it is true. The same applies to many other ingredients found in chai tea.
Combined, these ingredients are, without a doubt, a ‘match made in heaven’, especially when enjoyed in various chai tea recipes. Yet there are almost too many herbs, spices, and even specific oils to count when referencing their inclusion in some of India’s most popular brews.
Fennel, liquorice root, and nutmeg, for example, add further sweetness, while lemongrass can offer enticing citrus undertones. Ginseng, on the other hand, has notably earthy qualities. Some slightly more unorthodox, but absolutely mouthwatering recipes may go one step further. This includes the potential additions of vanilla, see our Madagascan Vanilla Chai Tea or for chocolate our Night of the Iguana Belgian Chocolate Chai, and fruits such as apple, orange, and lemon. These twists on traditional blends are certainly no less tasty
History and Culture of Chai Tea
Like countless other tea varieties, chai tea is quite literally steeped in great mystery, with a number of contradictory accounts as to how it first came to be. All that’s certain is chai tea as we know it today is actually a beverage artfully developed over thousands of years. First came the herbs and spices. Then, hundreds - if not thousands - of years later, tea was introduced into the brew.
It would not be until centuries after that finally, accompaniments such as milk and sugar were added. An early form of masala chai would actually have been a herbal tea, which could potentially date back 5,000 years, while other historians suggest even 9,000 years. Regardless of an exact date, it would have likely coincided near the time of the establishment of Ayurveda. During this period, a chai would have likely been known as a ‘Kadha’ (sometimes referred to as a ‘karha’), an essentially Ayurvedic decoction made with a number of herbs and spices for its beneficial qualities.
According to legend, it is thought that a reigning king of the time (many sources suggest this to be King Harshavardhana (circa 590 - 647 CE), but this is extremely unlikely), created the Kadha as a cleansing, vivifying Ayurvedic beverage in either India or Siam (present-day Thailand). This claim has been largely disputed in recent years, while another fascinating, but similarly questionable tale suggests the decoction was the idea of a Buddhist monk on his way to China.
It is said that this monk observed the local ritual of chewing on wild leaves and then tried it himself. Almost immediately, the monk felt rejuvenated. He was inspired, and so he took the leaves back to India. Some time later, during the reign of Emperor Ashoka (unknown - circa 230 BCE), records establish that these herb and spice-filled brews were used in his Royal Court for peace treaties and in moments of political consolidation.
Many centuries later, a Dutch traveller by the name of Jan Huyghen van Linschoten Jan (1563 - 1611) wrote: “Indians ate the leaves as a vegetable with garlic and oil and boiled the leaves to make a brew”. Could this be one of the first European references to an early form of chai tea?
The inclusion of tea leaves has a controversial history, and it begins with the British colonisation of India, but likewise spreads to the farthest reaches of the world. During the 18th Century, the British largely controlled the tea trade in Europe and her colonies. However, two deciding factors would see the birth of the tea industry in India.
First, the unrest in the American colonies - most famously the 1773 Boston Tea Party - had seen the British lose control of a large portion of North America (excluding British Canada), and subsequently, one of their most profitable tea incomes.
Meanwhile, ever-growing tensions between Britain and China had also seen the country’s main source of tea gradually dry up. Britain was now heading toward an economic disaster, and the nation’s refined taste for tea could spell bankruptcy. The country needed an answer, and so it looked to its Indian colony. In 1774, Warren Hastings, an English statesman and Governor of the Presidency of Fort William (Bengal), had sent a selection of Chinese Camellia sinensis var sinensis seeds to George Bogie, the then British emissary in Bhutan, for planting.
This experiment failed, as the Chinese native plants struggled in the Indian heat. A second attempt took place in 1780, this time under the watchful eyes of British Army Officer, Robert Kyd. However, once again, the plants struggled to flourish.
Decades later, in 1823, the Scottish merchant and adventurer, Robert Bruce, made an incredible discovery that would change the British Empire’s tea trade for years to come. He had traveled to Rangpur (present-day Sibsagar) in Upper Assam to meet Bessa Gaum, the chief of the Singpho, one of the principal indigenous tribes of the Indian north-east.
He intended to gain a better understanding of the native plants of the region and was, in turn, presented with leaves from a plant resembling that of Camellia sinensis var sinensis. Bruce knew that if his presumptions were accurate, a tea industry could be developed in Assam to rival that of China. Robert would go on to clarify his findings with his brother, C. A. Bruce, and the leaves were eventually studied at the Calcutta Botanical Gardens. It was confirmed - a variant of the tea plant, later known as Camellia sinensis var assamica, existed in India.
Sadly, Robert Bruce would never fully see the fruits of his labour due to his untimely death in 1824. However, his legacy would continue, and by the late 1830’s, ‘The Assam Company’ was established in England. A headquarters was subsequently set up in Nazira, and to this day, it remains the oldest commercial Tea Company in Assam.
As late as the early 20th Century, most Indians did not drink tea in any form. They instead preferred their nutritious Kadha brews which remained an integral part of their culture. Before and during the First World War (1914 - 1918), when Britain needed a much-needed boost to the economy, the British-owned Indian Tea Association began an aggressive marketing campaign to encourage Indians to drink tea.
The concept of ‘tea breaks’ was introduced to factories, textile mills, and mines in order to sway the tastes of the then colonial British subjects. Meanwhile, at railway stations, vendors known as ‘Chai Wallahs’ began selling tea goods to travellers. The competitive business of selling tea beverages soon saw these vendors attempting to stand out from the crowd. They began adding herbs and spices used in Kadhas to cater to Indian tastes, and soon its popularity spread.
But tea remained expensive, even with these additions. Therefore, to lower the cost of making these beverages, milk and then sugar was added. Historians largely believe that the inspiration for this came from travellers and traders from Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Bengal. At first, the Indian Tea Association disapproved of ‘diluting their product’, but over the course of time, this combination became accepted, and then eventually adored.
As independence sentiment increased throughout the 1900’s, the now-world-famous and highly respected leader, Mahatma Gandhi, actually discouraged the consumption of tea in any form due to its close association with the British Raj. Then, when India finally (and rightfully) became independent from Britain in 1947, sales once again increased.
However, chai tea had not yet embedded itself into Indian society until the CTC (cut, tear, curl) processing method of black tea, invented by William McKercher, became commonplace in the 1960’s. This ensured that tea’s exorbitant prices reduced, and it soon became affordable to the masses. Chai tea’s place in history was now sealed. It turned an entire generation (and generations thereafter) of Indians into ritual tea drinkers, with its momentum still gaining with every passing year, even as of the 21st Century. Chai wallahs, meanwhile, still brew fresh masala chai all day, every day.
Stands have now spread throughout the country, and can be found on street corners and roadsides in both rural and urban areas. Usually only equipped with a burner, a large clay pot, some cups, and a ladle on a meagre wooden table or box, chai wallahs have been caffeinating the population, one cup at a time. No matter where you are in India, you are likely not far from a humble chai stall.
Chai Tea Benefits
This miraculous beverage is near enough capable of anything, depending on what ingredients are included! In a world of thousands of different chai teas, it would be essentially impossible to find a recipe that didn’t benefit you in some form or another.
First examining the vital inclusion of black tea, extensive scientific studies have been able to isolate the key components found in these amazing leaves. Black tea has now been proven to contain the incredible antioxidants, theaflavin and thearubigin. These polyphenols, as they are known, have the ability to combat free radicals found in the body.
Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an unpaired number of electrons that can wreak havoc on organs and tissues. This, in turn, can lead to chronic conditions such as heart disease and even cancer. Antioxidants such as theaflavin and thearubigin, meanwhile, can slow down the effects of harmful oxidation through their work in neutralising free radicals.
Another common misconception is that, owing to the variety of herbs and spices used in chai, this beverage does not contain any caffeine. This is incorrect, at least when consuming any chai tea with actual tea leaves. In fact, here at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company, we can confirm that almost any relatively ‘modern’ chai tea recipe does have caffeine. It should be noted, however, that you would have to drink at least three cups of chai tea to achieve the same amount of caffeine you get from a single cup of coffee.
If, instead, you are looking to completely lower your caffeine intake, but still wish to enjoy the flavours and aromas of chai tea, we stock a selection of herbal teas (tisanes) that include many of these traditional herbs and spices. This includes our Red Chai Rooibos Tea, which infuses delectable Indian spices with an unmistakably South African beverage. We likewise have our Tulsi Ginger Chai which, like any other chai tea, can help in balancing the three Ayurvedic doshas.
Like many Ayurvedic teachings, ingredients incorporated into chai teas can likewise offer health benefits. This is now also proven, along with the consumption of regular black tea. Ginger, for example, has now been confirmed as a treatment for nausea and vomiting, according to modern science, while black pepper is known to improve digestion. Turmeric, meanwhile, has almost unmatched anti-inflammatory properties, and can also improve the immune system, aid with cardiovascular health, and enhance cognitive function. Every ingredient has its own, special abilities, with this compiling information on just some of the fantastic health promoting properties obtained from chai tea’s frequent consumption.
Immune System Health
Feeling a little under the weather? Chai tea is, without a doubt, a good choice. Many of the ingredients found in traditional masala chai can not only reduce the symptoms of cold and flu, but even prevent them from manifesting in the first place. Ginger is famously added to Lemon and Ginger Herbal Tea, a beverage acclaimed for its minor-illness-fighting capabilities. This particular ingredient contains anti-bacterial properties that can help to support the immune system, and likewise soothe symptoms in those who are already unwell.
Cinnamon is also thought to be an immune system booster, and is rich in antioxidant polyphenols and proanthocyanidins, as well as vitamins and minerals including manganese, calcium, fiber, and iron. Star anise is yet another beneficial component, and contains thymol, terpineol, and anethole.
Then, of course, you have turmeric, which is traditionally mixed with milk to make a famously healthy beverage known as ‘golden milk’. Turmeric in chai tea can be equally nutritious and beneficial. It has already been established that it contains not only antibacterial properties, but also antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiseptic qualities. These properties are invaluable in the body when protecting against incoming viruses.
Most of all, the inclusion of tea leaves can keep you in tip-top condition according to a study conducted at Harvard University, USA. The study showed that people who drank 5 cups of Black Tea a day for two weeks had 10 times more bacteria and virus-fighting interferon in their blood than those who were instead given a placebo hot drink.
Improved Digestive System
Many scientific studies around the world have researched and experimented with a few different Chai blends and recipes. According to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, USA, the basic spices used in Chai Tea are vitally important for improved digestion. A number of ingredients have the ability to stimulate this digestion, including cloves and black pepper. The latter, in particular, is believed to also support the pancreas in secreting digestive enzymes which, in turn, can help the body to digest heavy foods like fats and protein.
On the other hand, Cinnamon is known to calm the stomach and combat nausea and diarrhea, similar to ginger, which can also soothe the stomach. If fennel is included, this particular ingredient can help disperse flatulence. If poor digestion develops into an upset stomach, then consider Chai Tea for its black tea leaves.
One study conducted in 2016 showed that in 2 to 12-year-old participants with acute non-bacterial diarrhoea, Black Tea tablets were not only an effective, but also a safe and inexpensive way to help manage diarrhoea not directly related to bacteria. Chai tea is traditionally consumed after meals for these reasons, as well as for sheer enjoyment.
Turmeric, when included in chai tea recipes, is an especially crucial ingredient when it comes to treating inflammation. In fact, there are well over 5,600 biomedical study reports associated with turmeric’s ability to aid with rheumatoid arthritis, and joint pain. Such is its efficiency that turmeric has actually been compared to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).
Cinnamon and cloves are equally important owing to one of their main constituents called ‘eugenol’. This beneficial chemical compound has potent anti-inflammatory properties often used to relieve gum pain, in particular, as well as general inflammation.
Further to this, a recent study published on NHS Choices has suggested that inflammation may have a major impact on women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), as well as affecting overall menstrual discomfort. Meanwhile, a double-blind comparative clinical trial showed that ginger can be more effective than common painkillers in relieving pain in women with menstrual cramps.
Chai tea benefits the human body’s capacity for weight loss in a vast number of ways. Black tea in itself has been well-documented as a metabolism stimulator, while many of the other included spices likewise provide excellent weight management. A faster metabolism means the body is able to burn fat quicker, and far more efficiently.
Spice-wise. research conducted in the last decade has indicated that cardamom powder, when taken as a supplement, may prevent abdominal fat deposition. Although these studies were not conducted on chai tea, the result is likely similar.
Examining turmeric, a 2009 animal-based study at Tufts University in Massachusetts, USA, found that curcumin - one of the main components in turmeric - can actually suppress fat tissue growth in mice. If fennel is added, meanwhile, this ingredient is known for reducing mucus and fat from the intestinal tract and is also a natural appetite suppressant.
Chai Tea Recipes
Homemade chai tea is easier to make than many believe. It can be enjoyed warm on a cold winter’s night, or as a chai iced tea on a scorching hot summer’s day. The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company’s basic masala chai recipe will hopefully inspire your own tasty brew:
Authentic Masala Chai Tea Recipe:
Ingredients: Assam Tea TGFOP, cardamom pods, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, pepper, milk, sugar, water.
- Step 1: Crush cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon in a mortar or coffee grinder.
- Step 2: Place crushed spices in a small saucepan.
- Step 3: Add water, ginger, and pepper, then bring to a boil.
- Step 4: Remove the saucepan from the heat, cover, and let steep for approx 5 minutes.
- Step 5: Replace saucepan on the heat with the addition of milk and sugar and bring to a boil.
- Step 6: Once again remove from heat and add our House Assam Tea TGFOP.
- Step 7: Cover and steep for approx 3 minutes.
- Step 8: Stir thoroughly.
- Step 9: Strain into a warmed teapot or directly into mugs or cups.
- Step 10: Serve, relax, enjoy!
Where to Buy Chai Tea
If you do not have the time to experiment with your own recipe, The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company have a wide selection of chai tea blends for you to browse through and enjoy at your convenience. Perhaps most convenient of all is our Chai Tea Bags. This beverage contains black tea, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon. It won the Great Taste Award in 2006. The recipe was created by the Grandmother of a very old acquaintance to Mr. Richard Smith.
For those who are especially health-conscious, our Spicy Turmeric Chai Tea is a fantastic choice. As the name might suggest, this brew provides an additional kick of flavour thanks to ingredients such as chilli, cardamon seeds and, of course, turmeric.
Traveling across the Indian border, we have our Nepal Masala Chai Tea. This tasty tea is unique to the Ilam district, and uses black loose leaf Nepal Tea from the Shree Antu Gorkha Tea estate. Ingredients include cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom, as well as lemongrass!
Finally, we have our particularly popular Cochin Masala Chai, which is a notably spicy beverage that combines wonderful South Indian spices with a blend of Broken Pekoe teas from Assam and Kerala.
From the Royal Courts of ages past to the streets and suburbs of modern India, chai teas have endeared a nation for thousands of years. Now, that endearment is spreading, and through The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company’s nurturing hands, you can now step into the midst of its fascinating history from the comfort of your own home. No longer do you need to travel 5,000 miles to experience these wonderful teas (although, if you ever get the chance, we very much recommend it!). Instead, just sit back, relax, and enjoy a lovely, nourishing, and soulful cup of chai tea brought to you by us. You’ll certainly never look at that coffee shop blackboard the same way ever again.