Thursday, October 29, 2009

What is Chai? Where Did It Originate?

There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea. ~Bernard-Paul Heroux

In the simplest terms, Chai is a tea brewed with spices from India. If you live in India, the word "chai" is actually a generic word for tea in Hindi. The brewed, spiced tea we think of as chai is actually known as masala chai. The tea leaves and spices are boiled with water, then strained to serve. Some prefer it stronger and it's actually "stewed" for awhile before straining. Recipes vary from family to family, some have been handed down from generation to generation. Masala chai was thought of as a "cure", kind of like we think of chicken soup in the US. It's possible families have been making a form of masala chai for thousands of years. Early versions most likely used herbs, barks and spices instead of black tea, but changed as black tea was brought to India and became more common.

The following recipes are variations of masala chai. You can use loose tea or tea bags, but all need to be strained before serving. It's fun to create your own version of the chai once you have tried your hand at these recipes!

Easy Indian Milk Tea

2 black tea bags
2/3 cups water
1/2 cup milk
1 cardamom or small piece of crushed ginger
1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Place the tea bags in water and boil vigorously for 5 minutes.
Pour in milk and add sugar. Let it to boil just until the milk
rises. Add crushed cardamom pods or ginger. Steep for
ten minutes and serve hot.

Chai Tea

1 Tbsp. fennel or anise seed
6 green cardamom pods
12 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 inch piece ginger root, peeled, sliced thin
1/4 tsp. black peppercorns
7 cups water
2 Tbsp. loose Darjeeling tea
6 Tbsp. honey or brown sugar
1 cup milk

Add the fennel/anise, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ginger,
peppercorns and water to a pan. Bring to a boil, and simmer
5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons loose Darjeeling tea. Steep
for 10-15 minutes. Strain. Place back on heat and add the
honey or brown sugar and the milk. Heat just until boiling.

Masala Tea

1 tsp. loose Ceylon or Darjeeling tea
1 pinch cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon
a drop of pure vanilla extract
boiled milk
1 tsp. granulated sugar

Steep tea and spices at least 10 minutes. Strain tea,
add milk and sweeten to taste. Serve hot.

Enjoy! ~Brenda

1 comment:

  1. I love the taste of chai, but the cardamom always upsets my stomach. Kind of odd, because I've read that cardamom is supposed to be good for calming and upset stomach.


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