When you take the first sip of a really good cup of chai, it’s like a flavour explosion - spicy, creamy, and slightly sweet - it’s anything but subtle! So for those new to drinking and brewing chai, you may be wondering where this wonderful mixture comes from. Where does chai tea originate? Where does it come from? And is there one, true version of chai? All very good questions that we’re here to shed a bit of light on...
The chai that you often see on cafe menus and coffee shops across Australia has deep roots in India going back thousands of years, we’re talking 5,000-9,000 years ago! In India, it’s known as masala chai (meaning ‘spiced tea’) and has origins as a healing Ayurvedic elixir created specifically for royalty.
Viewed as a herbal medicine vs. an everyday beverage, Indians didn’t consume much masala chai or black tea until the British-owned India Tea Association heavily promoted the idea of tea breaks to factory workers and miners in the 1900s in order to increase tea sales. This coupled with the introduction of CTC (cut, tear, curl) tea production in the 1960s, lowered the cost of black tea and masala chai’s popularity rapidly grew. It became a staple within households and chai wallahs (meaning ‘tea persons’) began to set up roadside stalls within railway systems serving masala chai to the public.
Photography: Aditya Chinchure
ALWAYS MADE FRESH
As far as traditional ingredients go, masala chai is brewed with black tea, warming spices, milk and a sweetener of your choice. This spice mixture is called karha, where cardamom and ginger are the primary flavours.
Though contrary to what you may think, there isn’t one ‘true’ chai recipe or method. Masala chai was and still is truly unique to different regions and different families - each blend has different proportions and combinations of spices depending where you try it. In some regions, cloves and black peppers are avoided and in others green tea is used instead of black tea. Whatever your recipe, the one non-negotiable is that it’s always made fresh from scratch with freshly ground spices and freshly grated ginger. Always.
While convenient liquid chai concentrates and dry powders have become a popular method for serving chai in the West, we keep this made from scratch labour of love tradition going at Calmer Sutra Tea - only handcrafting our chai in small batches with spices ground to order. Our chai is not only fresh, it is wet, not dry! We add Victorian honey and freshly grated ginger to create a light, fluffy blend called Calmer Chai.
So the next time you have a craving for a traditional pot of masala chai, brew one of our fresh chai blends - SHOP FRESH CHAI.