Often referred to as Chai, spiced tea comes in many forms, simply because chai is a word for tea in numerous languages, derived from Mandarin Chinese chá. What many of us think of as chai, is actually masala chai. The word masala is an indian term for a mix of spices. So we have masala chai, aka spiced tea. Once masala chai made its way across various oceans, it dropped its first name and become lovingly referred to as just chai.
Going back to the early 20th century, although India was a big producer of tea, consumption of black tea within India remained low, until various campaigns by the Indian Tea Association to promote tea. The official promotion of tea was as served in the English mode, with small added amounts of milk and sugar. People in India added the spices, that we now associate with masala chai. The staple players being cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom, fennel and pepper; we have them to thank for that.
And exactly for that reason, there is no one recipe for masala chai. For as many various regions as there are in India, there are just as many ways to make this spiced beverage. And, of course, it has now evolved. Guidelines will still include some spice but not always the black tea; spiced chai can now be with rooibos, green or white tea as a base.
CHAI TO TRY
With your first sip you should be transported to the colourful, aromatic spice markets of India. With your second sip you will probably be wondering why on earth you haven't been drinking this before.
Super rich and warming. Smooth vanilla rooibos with little pieces of cinnamon and kibbled ginger
For those that like their chai with an extra kick, the chilli adds an extra taste dimension, just enough heat to lift the spice flavours.