“Chai” simply means tea in Hindi, the language of India, where this insanely tasty aromatic tea originated from. Since I was little, tea in our family always had some kinds of spice in it. Sometimes it’s just freshly ground ginger and sometimes it’s a mixture of whole spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger, and a number of other warm spices. This spicy tea is especially welcome during the winter months but I have never seen any Indian family making a cup of chai with ice, even in the hot summers! It’s customary, and also well-liked by every Indian, to drink a hot cup of tea whether it is summer or winter.
This daily tea that is made in every Indian household, as well as in street tea stalls, recently became a luxurious gourmet beverage in the Western countries, where it has been named “Chai Tea”. In other words, all you’re saying is “Tea Tea”!
But what is this hugely popular tea drink and how is it made? It seems like a very difficult recipe that takes devoted hours in the kitchen. But in reality making a splendid cup of steaming or iced Chai is nothing more than just brewing regular black tea (either loose or tea bag) with some highly aromatic whole spices and then adding whole creamy milk and sugar.
Whole milk and sugar – two big taboos in today’s health-conscious world – are actually the heroes in making a successful cup of Chai. The whole milk gives it the authentic creaminess and the sugar intensifies the aroma of the whole spices. Now, as with everything, there can be alternative ways of making chai to suit your taste buds while taking care of your health. But, that said, you will sacrifice the authentic chai that is sold on Indian streets. The choice is always yours!
Although using the whole spices in making chai is always preferred, we have made a Chai Spice blend that can give you the same flavor as the whole spices, and the bonus is a shorter brewing time. Following is a recipe where you will see how you can make an authentic, tasty cup of Chai Tea using our convenient Chai Spice blend. Enjoy!
3/4 cup boiling water
1 black tea bag OR 1 rounded tsp. loose black tea
Sweetener to taste
1/8 - 1/4 tsp Curry's Chai Latte Spice
1/4 cup whole milk **
1/8 tsp Curry's Chai Latte Spice (to sprinkle)
1. Pour boiling water over the tea, sweetener, and Chai Spice in a saucepan. Cover and brew for 7-9 minutes.
2. Pour in the milk and heat the tea to just under boiling point.
3. Strain the tea into a cup or remove the tea bag. Sprinkle a little Chai Spice for added flavor.
For Iced Chai Latte: Cool the Chai Tea (as made above) and pour over ice.
** You can use 2% milk, but you'll sacrifice the creaminess of the tea. You could also use alternate milk to make the tea dairy-free.
Dr. Gayatri Borthakur, a nutritionist turned entrepreneur, has a PhD in nutrition and a passion for delicious but healthy foods.