- A Cultural Perspective: Chai Tea or just Chai?
“Can I get a cup of Chai Tea?” You mean “Tea-Tea?” “No, a cuppa chai-tea”
It’s a crazy debate but to spill the tea - chai tea translates to tea-tea. Tea in Hindi and Urdu is called chai. It might be a sumptuous trend around the world, but it's only chai.
What Exactly Is Chai or Chai Tea?
As mentioned above, the Hindi term for tea is called “chai.” It originates from the Chinese word “cha,” meaning “tea.” Chai is one of the most popular Indian tea recipes. It’s not your regular brew of steeped tea. It’s a rich amalgamation of Indian spices, milk, and tea.
You brew black tea with a melange of Indian spices ranging from cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, fresh ginger to even peppercorn, along with a dash of milk and sugar. It’s exquisitely known as Masala Chai - “masala” means spices and “chai” is tea - Hence masala chai.
Masala chai is served in every nook-and-corner tea shops in India. It’s a territorial drink because every tea shop has its own set of loyal customers who swear by their favorite chaiwala’s (tea-seller) chai!
What is chai tea made of?
Every Indian household and tea stall has its signature chai tea or masala chai recipe. It tastes rustic, robust, sweet, and genuinely soul-quenching. You don’t have to transform into a Michelin-star chef to master the art of making chai tea - oops - masala chai.
It’s quite simple and starts with boiling a mix of water and milk in a 1:2 ratio. While the mixture is boiling, add sugar, spice blend (including cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, peppercorn, etc.) and let it simmer. Once it comes to a boil, add loose black tea and bring it to a boil.
Use a filter or sieve to transfer only the liquid (chai) into your cup and enjoy with a batch of freshly baked cookies or cakes.
Chai or masala tea ingredients for two cups:
1 cup milk
½ cup of water
1 tablespoon black tea leaf
2 teaspoon sugar (or as per your liking)
2 pods of cardamon
½ inch cinnamon stick
2 - 3 cloves
½ inch grated ginger
2 - 3 crushed peppercorns
Masala Chai Spice Blend
You can pre-make the spice blend and store it in an airtight container for regular use. All you need to do is blend all the dry spices (which means excluding ginger or use dry ginger). Add a spoonful of it after you bring water and milk mixture to a boil, along with sugar and tea leaf, as and when you crave masala chai.
Is Chai Tea Good For You?
Chai Tea or Masala Chai benefits are manifold:
Controls blood pressure and cholesterol
Masala chai contains spices that are a rich source of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and vital medicinal components. For example, ginger and clove are packed with therapeutic and anti-inflammatory elements, like gingerol - they aid in reducing muscle soreness and pain. Cinnamon boosts our immune and digestive system. It is loaded with antioxidants and can lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and boost hormone insulin sensitivity.
So, next time you order chai tea, repeat tea-tea in your mind because that’s precisely what it’s called. If prepared with a perfect blend of spices, you can transcend to India with a single sip - because chai is life in India!