A Beginner's Guide To Chai (Tea)
Chai (tea) is a humble Ayurvedic drink that originated in India over 1,000 years ago and since then this spiced tea has taken the world by storm. Even though chai (tea) is a popular drink in Australia, not much is known about this aromatic herbal infusion.
Read more to discover chai, from its interesting origins to its nutrient-packed ingredients, and the most common misconception about its name!
What is Chai (tea)?
Chai (tea) is a tea-based Ayurvedic drink that was created in India and is still widely enjoyed in the country. Original masala chai is made using black tea leaves from Indian plantations, but other variations include; Indian Assam, Darjeeling black tea and Ceylon black tea. Our Exceptional Ceylon Spice Chai is made from the finest tea handpicked from the lush tea gardens of Sri Lanka and infused with a blend of spices such as Ceylon cinnamon, clove and ginger.
Interestingly, chai is the Hindi word for tea which is derived from “cha”, the Chinese word for tea. However, due to the commercialisation of this herbal drink, most countries in the west call it “Chai Tea”, even though saying tea is redundant.
Also, it’s quite possible that you may never have the same chai twice as chai (tea) recipes not only vary from country to country but also among households, so there is truly an infinite amount of chai variations!
Origins of Chai (Tea)
Originally chai (tea) did not contain tea leaves from the Camellia Sinensis plant and it was merely hot water infused with spices. However, after the British rule and the introduction of tea to the region, this herbal infusion become a tea-based beverage. Also, when tea was first produced in India, it was only for export purposes and it was quite expensive, so not many locals could afford it. During this time, vendors would increase the quantity of milk, sugar and spices to keep their cost low. This is why today’s masala chai is a milky concoction that is very sweet and very spicy.
There is also a legend that says a king wanted to combine an Ayurvedic elixir with the taste of tea, and because of this, there are many health benefits to drinking chai (tea).
Ingredients Used and Benefits
While the ingredients used to make chai (tea) can vary greatly, there are still a few key ingredients that are generally used. Here are some of the spices that are almost always present in chai and their benefits.
A strong brew of black tea is vital for a good cup of chai (tea). It forms the base of any chai (tea) and it must be brewed to perfection. If you opt for brewing your chai (tea) from scratch, try Dilmah’s Brilliant Breakfast loose leaves. However, if you’re pressed for time, our Exceptional Ceylon Spice Chai tea bags are another option.
Did you know that black tea can help tackle signs of skin ageing and aids in weight loss? Chai (tea) is also one of the few drinks that are safe for pregnant women. Although black tea contains a small amount of caffeine, a moderate amount of chai (tea) is safe when pregnant.
Cardamom is a spice made from seeds that grow from a plant that closely resembles ginger. Some of the health benefits of this spice include improving heart health and cholesterol levels, as well as promoting oral health.
This aromatic rust coloured bark is one of the most important Ayurvedic ingredients. Cinnamon is believed to help reduce blood sugar levels and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Black peppercorns are known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-respiratory and antibacterial properties. This spice is also believed to aid weight loss and has digestive properties which help lower blood pressure.
How to Brew and Prepare Chai (Tea)
The traditional way to brew chai (tea) is by steeping black tea with a blend of spices. However, if you can’t find all the necessary spices, our Exceptional Ceylon Spice Chai has a harmonious infusion of tea and spices.
Here is how you can brew a traditional cup of chai (tea):
- Boil 220 ml (one cup) of spring water to a temperature of 95℃ - 100℃.
- Add one tea bag or 2.5g black tea leaves to the hot water. If you’re using loose tea leaves, try the Dilmah T-Series Thetiere Plunger for a stylish real tea experience.
- Stir the tea and the water so that it can be properly infused.
- Next, cover the Thetiere and let the tea steep for about 5 minutes to get a strong brew. By covering the flask, you ensure none of the flavour or aroma escapes.
- In a separate jug, put your desired spices and add milk. Chai (tea) is best enjoyed with milk. The stronger the spice, the stronger the tea should be used.
- After 5 minutes, pour the brewed black tea into the jug with the milk and your desired blend of spices. Get another jug and keep pouring the milk between the two, this is called ‘pulling the tea’ which oxygenates the tea and gives it a frothy quality.
- Finally, pour it into a mug and enjoy! You can also make it an iced chai by serving it in a tall glass filled with ice cubes.
Chai (Tea) Recipe
If you are hosting an afternoon tea, try this fun Misty Spice Chai Cocktail to spice up your afternoon!
- 45ml Dilmah Spiced Chai Tea Syrup (100ml / 2 tea bags)
- 15ml vanilla vodka
- 30ml vodka
- 15ml cinnamon vodka
- 15ml sugar syrup
- 30ml pear juice
Method and Direction:
- Combine all ingredients.
- Proceed with shake and strain method.
- Serve in a sugar-rimmed martini glass.
Chai is the definition of a comforting drink, which is necessary in times like this. One sip of chai (tea) will transport you to the bustling streets of Colombo. Shop online for chai (tea) here.