The smell of brewing chai filled my kitchen this morning. My son said it smelled like Thanksgiving! That’s no surprise since many of the spices found in a blended chai are those found in breads, pies and dishes we serve during that time of year.
Masala Chai, or chai as we have come to know it, is a beverage with its roots in India and has been a staple of Indian cuisine even before they grew tea in their country. The different regions and villages used chai to treat ailments – the spices have many healthful properties, especially for digestion.
Ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, clove and black pepper are the most common. However, now we find turmeric, lemongrass and chili peppers blended into the recipes for added flavor, aromas and benefits.
With the addition of black tea to the chai, the people of India also enjoyed a boost of energy from the caffeine, which makes sense that now, nearly every person there starts, sustains and perhaps even ends their day with this delicious drink.
Street corners are homes for the many Chai Wallahs selling this creamy, sweet and flavorful drink by the cupful. I can imagine it’s difficult to pass up! Each Chai Wallah has their own guarded recipe, much like our classic family recipes we cherish.
This decadent (though common) drink is made from boiled tea and spices with lots of sugar and milk added to create a rich, creamy beverage.
Chai has become popular in the U.S. within the last forty years as more people have been introduced to this comforting tea. We can find it almost anywhere in several renditions: hot or iced chai, ice cream and other desserts. The spices are familiar enough, but it’s the combination that makes it so special! Many people looking for ways to add tea to their diet or to cut down on their coffee consumption find chai a welcome alternative due to its heartiness and full flavor.
With so many available options, you’re sure to find a chai that suites your taste buds. You probably have the ingredients for a wonderful chai in your pantry right now. Have some fun coming up with your own combinations of tea and spices!
Chai can be used in many ways, so explore how this marvelous tea can enhance your life as you begin your day, entertain friends and family, or snuggle up with a warm cuppa of chai in the evening.
Photo by Dana Tentis