In the midst of the cold times of January where most people want to stay in, exhausted from excessive socializing during the holidays, we need something to keep us warm and occupied. What are we at Gourmet Boutique reaching for? Home-made masala chai.
Enjoying a hot cup of chai is nowhere new. This spiced creamy drink dates back thousands of years to an ancient royal court. The exact age is up for discussion, claimed to be from 5000 to 9000 years old. The birthplace is believed to be India.
In the beginning stages of this drink, it was an Ayurvedic cleansing beverage created by a king. There was a range of flavors and temperatures to aid for different ailments. It was not till the British Raj did chai become what it is today.
During the British colonization of India in the early 1900s, the British-owed Indian Tea Association wanted to increase the British export of black tea, so they could make more money. They marketed tea and made it a staple. But, black tea was very expensive. In order to cut down costs, chai wallahs (vendors) started to mix the black tea with milk and spices that were imported, this is where masala chai started. The latte-esque spiced drink grew in popularity.
The consumption of chai skyrocketed in the ’60s with machines allowing mass-production and is still a staple in Indian culture. It is used to welcome guests into a home. It has since spread around the world.
The biggest thing Americans need to know is the word chai on its own translates to tea. It envelopes anything that is steeped in water. It’s masala chai, with the spices and milk that most think of as chai. So when you order a “chai tea latte” at Starbucks you’re ordering a “tea tea latte.” The more you know! Now go indulge in a wonderful cup yourself.
Written by Annie at Gourmet Boutique