The History of Chai: Brewing the Chai Latte

A Brief History of Chai

The word chai is the ancient Persian word for tea. Two thousand years ago, the Persian empire consisted of the lands that we refer to as the Middle East: Turkey, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan and China. Persia met India on the western boarder, and trade routes carried tea and spices between the regions of China and India to Persia via both land and sea.

The origin of adding spices to tea is a matter of some debate, because the Taiwanese and Indian people have been spicing tea for thousands of years. The people of these regions added ingredients such as cinnamon, clove, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, anise, peppercorn, fennel, and other ingredients to tea leaves; we refer to these as masala spices. Masala chai became a major export of India to the Persian Empire, thus the word chai became synonymous with the spices added to the tea. Given the hot, dry climate of the region and long periods of exposure to oxidation on the tea routes, most tea traveling throughout India and Persia were black teas, and most notably, Assam.

In the early 1830′s, British expansionism and occupation throughout India allowed Britain to easily import tea and spices from India and China. Tea became Britain’s most popular beverage, so much so that it became customary to serve tea in pubs and parlors, and even many businesses allowed their employees to take ‘tea breaks’. Tea was served with whole milk or heavy cream and sweetened with sugar, though this practice was also adopted from India where spiced chai was often served with boiled buffalo milk and honey, thus the westernization of the chai tea latte.

Making The Chai Latte

Thankfully, we’ve already done the work of spicing our chai for you, and we have several different chai profiles for your drinking pleasure. Take note though that not all chai blends make a good chai latte, which is often dependent on the intensity of the tea and spices used. There are many different approaches to making a chai latte, both westernized and cultural. In the event that you don’t own a milk steamer, we offer the Octavia Tea method for the tastiest traditional chai latte you can make at home!

You will need:

A stove or heat source

A teapot or saucepan ( 2-4 cups)

A measuring Cup

A tablespoon

A strainer

Whole milk

Sugar or honey

One of the recommended Octavia Chai blends listed

A driving desire to drink a steamy, delicious beverage

and the courage to make your dreams a reality

Instructions:

Add 1 cup cold water, 1/4th cup whole milk, and 1 heaping tablespoon of chai blend directly into a small pot (if you have a sitting strainer or a straining ball, you may use that as well)

Bring the pot to a simmer on the stove. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes (this allows the maximum efficacy of the flavors to culminate; over-simmering will cause the tea to become bitter)

Remove from heat.

Stir in desired amount of honey or sugar to taste (2 tablespoons is generally adequate)

Strain the contents into a cup

Sip carefully and enjoy!

Caution: hot tea is hot!

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