Part 1: A World of Chai
Masala Chai is a tea and spice blend most notably ubiquitous with nations of South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka to name a few). It has variants across the middle east and Africa and, in the lat 90's and early 2000's became a popular tea worldwide. However, its roots are most closely traced to India (we'll do a blog post about the history of chai and link it here soon).
For now, imagine the thick scents of chai spices filling the air on the streets of Mumbai.
If you were to stroll these streets you would find very corner and every block is bound with an expert Chai maker - the chai wallah (literally, a "tea seller" - who each skillfully prepare their unique recipes brewed from all natural ingredients found in the nearby spice markets packed with locally grown ingredient. Their skill is unmatched and is known to draw locals and mesmerize travelers alike. With their recipes, they honor traditional chai making techniques.
Part 2: The Chai Wallah
Each Chai Wallah gathers their ingredients: a dynamic blend of cinnamon, cardamom, Assam tea, ginger, and black pepper among others. In fact, when we first started making our Traditional Chai blend - we drew inspiration from the premium ingredients, dynamically flavored proportions, and preparation techniques of Chai Wallahs. Though we prepare our chai blends at a much larger scale than when we started making chai in our kitchen, we have engrained that inspiration into the DNA of our brand of chai.
Check out this video of one such Chai Wallah preparing a batch of masala chai below.
Part 3: The Perfect Blend
Chai can be made with many ingredients. Common ingredients in chai include:
- Assam Black Tea (CTC)
- Black Pepper
- Star Anise
- Unique twists like orange peel or bay leaf
Part 4: Does chai have milk in it?
Yes! People often wonder what makes chai "creamy." This is because the ratio of water-to-milk is typically 50/50 (or even a little heavier on the milk!) which makes it creamier when compared to western style teas which often contain relatively little to no milk in them.
Part 5: Why does chai kind of look like coffee - but it doesn't taste like coffee?
People often confuse chai to be coffee because a heavily-creamed coffee and a traditional cup of chai can look very similar in a shared rich brown color.
Chai becomes brown because it is a black tea with spices brewed in hot water (and milk) which creates the golden rich golden brown color
Meanwhile, coffee beans brews much to a much darker black color and is subsequently lightened in color by the addition of milk, creamers, and/or sugar.
A coffee with a heavy dose of milk will still fundamentally taste like coffee.
A Chai, on the other hand, will taste of dynamic, flavor-bursting spices built upon a rich black tea base.
Part 6: Is it okay to use alternative milk in chai?
It is completely acceptable to use alternative milk in your chai. Heck, we encourage it! While a traditional chai made by a Chai Wallah is made with whole milk, you can easily expect great flavor with any kind of milk you either prefer or are dietarily restricted to.
Many of our customers use dairy alternatives such as oat milk, soy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk to make their chai. We offer a guide to choosing your milk for chai in our how-to page.
Part 7: Make Your Own Masala Chai
Kitchen Tools and Utensils
- Brick and Mortar
- Measuring Cup
- Stirring Spoon
- Sauce Pan
- Simple Strainer
- 1/2 TSP Assam Black Tea (CTC)
- 2 Cinnamon Sticks
- 2-3 Cardamom Pods
- 1/2" Cut of Fresh Ginger
- 3-4 Whole Black Pepper Pods
- Jaggery (Sweetener, in Paste form)
- Oat Milk (or your preferred milk)
Step 1: Crush the cinnamon to a coarse grind | Crush the cardamom pods only slightly so seeds have come out but not so fine it turns into a powder. Peel then cut your fresh ginger, crush your black pepper pods.
Step 2: Add spices to 1 Cup of Water and bring 1 water to a boil. At boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low for a slow churning boil (about 3 minutes)
Step 3: Add the tea and allow to brew with the spices (about 1 minute)
Step 4: Add the Oat Milk and turn head to medium. Stir gently to combine and allow the mixture to return to a slow churn. Allow to slow churn boil for about 2-4 minutes. The longer you allow it to churn, the stronger the Chai flavor will be.
Step 5: Strain directly into mug
Step 6: Spoon Jaggery into mug and stir until dissolved
Part 8: But, You Could Always Make it Easier on Yourself...😉
We made our chai so you could savor chai so good it'll taste like a Chai Wallah just brewed a cup of chai infront of you. You could always use our Traditional or Decaf Chai blends to make chai-making easier, simpler, and faster.
Part 9: Our Chai Vs. Making Your Own at Home