~ Time honored and tasty - let's talk about chai. ~
What is it? "Chai" translates to "tea," and what we typically think of as chai is actually masala chai - black tea (usually Assam), warming spices like nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, clove and cinnamon ('masala' means spices), warm milk and sugar or honey.
Where did it come from? In the mid-1800's, the British introduced tea to the Assam region of India. It quickly became popular, and was added to the fabled "grandmother's chai," a common mixture of Ayurvedic spices, herbs and roots used to cure illness. Most commonly used "chai spices" are excellent at combatting common colds and other ailments as well as aiding in digestion, and the addition of tea created a beverage that quickly became a daily ritual in India's culture.
Can I make it myself? Definitely! Serious Eats has a good recipe and more interesting facts here, and ChaiPilgrimage.com has some great Q&A on specifics. There are also hundreds of great pre-made chai options available, and chances are you can even find a locally made loose leaf chai blend to brew yourself or a good concentrate to mix with milk. A few that we're loving right now include:
Gray Duck Chai Nine Spice Blend Concentrate - Minneapolis, MN
Happy Lucky's Mahatma Masala Loose Leaf Chai - Fort Collins, CO
The Sophisticates Tea Chai Concentrate - Denver, CO
Prana Chai Masala Blend Fresh Chai - Melbourne, Australia
Fun Fact: The chai makers that operate the hundreds of chai carts around India are called "Chai Wallahs."
Cheers to Chai! - Sadie
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