The launch of Oprah Chai this past April created a slew of new interest in chai. Whether Oprah’s blend is your favorite chai or not, it’s exciting that she’s created a new buzz around chai and opened the door for more individuals to venture into the world of tea. If you’re someone who had never tried chai before Oprah announced her blend, there are probably a lot of things you don’t know about this unique spicy beverage. So here are a few things you can use to expand your knowledge and impress your local barista.
10 things you probably didn’t know about Chai:
10. While we in the western world use the word Chai to describe tea mixed with spices, sweetener and milk. The word Chai actually just means Tea in many places of the world.
9. Chai is traditionally a combination of bold black tea, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and pepper.
8. Homemade Chai (tea with milk & spices) varies from region to region and even household to household. Each family has their particular combination and ratios of spices.
7. Sugar is often added to Chai to balance out the spice flavor. Be aware that many of the Chai powdered concentrates you buy in the store will include some kind of sugar/sweetener. If you are avoiding sugar for health reasons, always check the ingredients and look for the non-powdered Chai varieties in your tea aisle. Also look for brands that add a sweet flavor in an alternative way, such as Global Teas ‘Rich Vanilla Chai’ which uses vanilla as the sweetener.
6. You may have heard the term Masala Chai before. The Hindi word for Tea is Chai and the word Masala means mix of spices. Therefore Masala Chai simply means Tea with a mix of spices.
5. If you travel within India, you are likely to see a ‘Chai Wallah’ on the streets: a boy or young man who sells cups of tea.
4. The powerful antioxidant properties found in black tea, combined with the numerous health benefits of the various spices, suggests that Chai can help improve digestion, fight inflammation and enhance the immune system.
3. Many people make the mistake of thinking Chai is caffeine free, but it is not. Because black tea is most commonly used as the base tea, Chai contains natural caffeine from the tea. However, there are some companies who use the South African Rooibos as a base which does not contain caffeine. Check the label if you’re not sure!
2. The Chai Latte and Iced Chai Latte are western inventions. They combine a powdered concentration of black tea, spices and sugar mixed with hot water and steamed milk. These are often high in sugar and calories so be aware!
1. You can create your own chai at home! Combine a bold black tea (such as an Assam), cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and pepper. Experiment with varying ratios of each ingredient and choose whether to add milk and/or sweetener until you find your perfect blend.
Dezerai Seitzer is the owner and founder of Global Teas, a retail line of tea that gives people the opportunity to help change lives by donating $1 from every pouch of tea sold to a non-profit organization.