What is Chai? What is Tea?
Well, technically they’re the same thing!
Chai is the Hindi word for tea, and Cha is the word used in Punjab. Our friends over the lands in China also use the word Cha for tea.
So...when I ask for a Chai Tea, I’m really saying Tea Tea? Hehe - yep, but we promise we won’t laugh...too much! It is kind of the same giggle that Italians get when you ask for a Latte in Italy. Latte in Italian just means milk….hmmm...
But enough with the pointing of fingers! We’re here to educate!
Cha or Chai in India is the blend of black tea with spices, which is then cooked over a flame, with water and milk. If you like things sweet (and Indian people do!) add a little Jaggery - this is an Indian natural sugar - similar to Panella or Rapadura.
You may have seen Chai recipes or ingredient lists at your local store, and realised that some blends have a lot of ingredients (like our signature 11 Spice blend!) and some do not have many at all. Traditionally, this is because chai in India is produced differently in different regions...at different times of year...for different celebrations...to be enjoyed at different times of the day...by different families....ok, so you get that Indian people are a little obsessed with chai!
This brings us to Ayurveda. Ayur...what?
Ayurveda ( /äyərˈvādə/ ) is one of the most ancient forms of holistic well-being which is still widely practiced in India today. Uppma’s Grandfather, Dr Pritam Virdi, was an Ayurvedic doctor in Punjab, India, and he passed on his knowledge of the traditional uses of herbs & spices to his granddaughter. From him she learnt a deep understanding of Indian spices and their Ayurvedic properties. A lot of science and study goes into creating our blends, we don't just whack a bunch of spices together but we analyse their natural energies and properties and pair them accordingly. Examples of this include our use of fennel (we LOVE fennel) which brings a calming and relaxing vibe to your insides - why do you think you feel so good after a cup of chai - it’s like magic (well, Indian magic!). Carom Seeds aid in digestion and helps to stimulate the appetite (hello, metabolism!) - which is why carom seeds, otherwise known as ajwain, are often found in milky or buttery foods - it works well to balance the fatty substances found in these often delicious treats! We also look at balancing the energies Pitta, Vata and Kapha with our blends. Now, there is something fun to research (and content for another blog post)!
We could go on and on (just ask us, we dare you!), but basically we put a lot in to the research behind why we do what we do - we really just want you to feel really, really good after one of our teas!
Now, back to the Tea element in our chai blends...
All tea comes from the same plant - Chamellia Sinensis. But there’s black tea, green tea, white tea, oolong tea…. Yep, still that same Sinensis guy. It all comes down to processing. Green tea is often only lightly dried, or steamed, and hardly touched before it gets to your teapot. This is how it is able to sustain that lovely light, fresh, ‘green’ taste. Black tea has been fully oxidised, or exposed to air and heat, so it goes darker and dryer. This is why you will find black tea as the base for so many great tea blends (hello, chai) - you’ll recognise the earthy undertones, but it works amazingly as a sexy stage for other great herbs, spices, and florals to flourish. Oolong tea is somewhere in between green and black, and white tea...well white tea is hand picked by white-gloved angels on misty hills, and kissed by the heavens before being transported by chosen doves to your local tea supplier…
So in this blog we’ve covered the Ayurvedic spices bit, and we’ve discussed the basics of tea. Do you have other questions you’ve always wanted to ask a Chai Walli (which means Tea Lady, by the way)? We’d love to hear from you - feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Chai drinking!