What Is Real Chai?

What Is Real Chai?

In many Western countries like Australia, the Indian culture and cuisines have been highly appropriated instead of appreciated. Chai Walli exists to help preserve culture, restore authenticity, educate and share family recipes through our award-winning chai and spice blends. 

From yoga, to bindis, to kirtans to a humble cup of chai - so many of us from the South Asian countries have to bite our tongues when we see our culture being monopolised by others. It hurts because so much of this is sacred and passed down in generations becoming a part of our DNA.

There is so much to share, but this blog only deals with what real chai is. 

Firstly, terminology:

  • chai (Hindi) = tea 
  • cha (Punjabi) = tea
  • masala = spices
  • masala chai = spices with tea (this is the correct term when referring to chai, not chai tea)
  • an extra one just for fun: garam masala = hot savoury spice mix (which various family to family) 

So, what is masala chai?

Masala chai refers to the preparation of black tea mixed with a combination of spices. Masala chai has been enjoyed for centuries in South Asia, particularly in India. Here's what sets proper masala chai apart:

  1. SpicesMasala chai is brewed with a blend of aromatic spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. BUT every region, every family, every season in India will have different spices according to what their family's recipe. These spices are typically mixed with tea then added to a saucepan with water to start the brewing process, thus infusing it with rich, complex flavours and aromas. 
  2. Tea LeavesAuthentic chai is made with loose black tea leaves, often sourced from regions like Assam or Darjeeling. The tradition grade of tea that is used is CTC grade of black tea which is a "crush tear curl tea". The tea leaves are brewed along with the spices to create a robust and flavourful infusion. Please note that you do not need to add tea leaves to a chai mix, it can be kept caffeine free for a more Ayurvedic and therapeutic beverage. 
  3. MilkMilk is a crucial component of masala chai, adding creaminess and richness to the brew. Traditionally, whole milk is used, but variations with non-dairy milk substitutes like almond or soy milk can also be done.
  4. Sweetener (Optional)While not always necessary, some versions of real chai include a sweetener such as sugar, honey, or jaggery. The sweetness helps balance the bold flavours of the spices and tea.
  5. Brewing MethodMasala chai is traditionally brewed on the stovetop in a saucepan. The tea leaves, spices, and milk are simmered together to allow the flavours to meld and the tea to develop its characteristic richness. The milk is then added and brought to a boil a few times, we call this the double brew method.
  6. StrainingOnce brewed, masala chai is strained to remove the tea leaves and whole spices, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable drinking experience.
  7. Serving StyleMasala chai is often served piping hot in small cups or glasses, making it ideal for sipping and savouring slowly. It's a beverage that is enjoyed throughout the day in India, from morning to evening, and is often shared among friends and family.

                  Masala chai is a labor of love, crafted with care and attention to detail to create a beverage that is as comforting as it is flavourful. While there are many variations and modern interpretations of chai available today, masala chai remains deeply rooted in tradition and continues to be cherished by tea enthusiasts around the world.

                  Don't get it twisted

                  Tea (the caffeinated tea leaves from the camellia sinensis plant) was only introduced in India in the 1880's by the British who were trying to find another country to trade tea from as they were banned from getting tea from China. This was due to the Opium Wars as the British had destroyed the Chinese economy by trading opium for tea from the Chinese. So, when other chai companies say that their masala chai (with black tea) is thousands of years old dating back 5,000 years, this is simply not true. Tea is a very young product in India but today India is the second largest producer of tea in the world after China.

                  Ayurveda (the Indian science of life and ancient medical system) is more than 5,000 years old. Ayurveda uses traditional herbs and spices as medical concoctions. So the spice remedies can be said to be thousands of years old which is what our caffeine free masala chai blends are based on. These blends do not contain any black tea or decaffeinated tea whatsoever, they are purely spices. 

                  So, please don't get it twisted when a chai company says their masala chai is based on a 5,000 year old medical system when it may not be.


                  The information provided above is for educational and informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice or a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet, exercise routine, or lifestyle, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or concerns. The use of the information provided is at your own risk.


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