What is chai?
Chai is a spiced tea usually created with black tea leaves and strong spices like cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, ginger, and black peppercorns. However, recipes for chai varies across countries, cultures, and families. Chai is usually served with hot milk and honey for the sweetener.
Legend has it that chai dates back more than 5,000 years when a king, in present day India, ordered a spiced beverage used for healing. Each ingredient was believed to bring healing to the person who drank the chai tea. The heat created by ginger and black pepper was believed to to stimulate digestion, cloves would relieve pain, cardamom was a mood elevator, cinnamon supported circulation and respiratory functions, and star anise was known to freshen one’s breath. Every region across India had their own recipes and healing powers.
Components of Chai
Tea: The Assam and Darjeeling black teas are the most popular tea for the ‘base’ of chai. However, it is not limited to just black teas, but herbal and green teas are used as well.
Sweetener: Some chais have sweeteners, others don’t. At Crepes we have a lot of variety from sweet to a bitter (but delicious) taste. Jaggery, a cane sugar most popular in India, is the most popular sugar used in Chai. Another sweetener commonly used with chai is honey, and Crepes Tea House always brings honey with the teas!
Milk: In India, they use buffalo milk with their chais. However, in the “Western Version” we typically use cow’s milk. If you prefer milk alternatives you can always ask your waiter for almond or coconut milk. Also you can always get your milk steamed so the chai will stay hot when you add the foamy milk.
Spices: Chai teas have a lot of different ingredients and different combinations. The traditional ingredients are: cardamom, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, black peppercorn, vanilla, nutmeg, mace, star anise and fennel. Some new interpretations of ingredients are: bay leaf, allspice, cacao, saffron, coriander, and cumin. Every ingredient brings a different flavor to the chai.
Caffeine Content in Chai
Most chai teas have a black tea base so the caffeine level is similar. However, the caffeine levels mainly depends on how the black tea was created through the oxidation and drying process.
The recommended chai serving is 2 grams per 8 oz cup of hot water. You can also brew your chai in hot milk or a mixture of hot water and milk. Steep your chai for about 5 minutes and then taste the chai and decide if you’d like to steep it for a longer time.
Always keep your tea in a cool, dark place preferably in an airtight container. Make sure to keep the tea away from moisture, heat, oxygen, and light.
“Chai” is the Hindi word “tea,” which was originally derived from “cha” which is the Chinese word for tea
Some Chai Teas Available at Crepes Tea House:
Spice Masala Chai Tea
Caramel Chai Puerh Chai Tea
Cafe Spice Chai Tea
Vanilla Chai Tea
Orange Spice Chai Tea
Hot Cinnamon Chai Tea ( Spotlight Tea… check one of our previous blog posts)
Chocolate Chai Tea
AND SO MUCH MORE!