Let’s chat about chai!
I have declared myself your very own personal ‘tea’cher (ba dum tss) for the duration of this post!
Now that our roles are clear, and you’re settled in the students’ ‘chai’r, (drumroll) let’s chat about chai!
First of all, what is chai?
Surprise surprise! The word “chai” originated from the Hindi word चाय which means tea with milk, sugar, and spices (optional)! So actually, chai tea latte means tea tea latte. That’s got a lot of ‘t’s’ in it!
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines tea as “an aromatic beverage prepared from tea leaves by soaking them in boiling water or any of various plants used like tea: a drink prepared by soaking their parts (such as leaves or roots) and used medicinally or as a beverage”.
Now that we have clari’tea’ on the meaning of chai, let’s talk about tea stereotypes (teareotypes if you will).
Traditionally, tea may be classified according to its method of manufacture (black tea, green tea, oolong, white tea) or according to the leaf size of the plant it is produced from (orange pekoe, pekoe, souchong).
In today’s day and time however, tea isn’t just the beverage we make using tea leaves, it is any beverage prepared by steeping botanicals in liquid! It could be golden tea (made using turmeric milk and honey) which has neither tea leaves nor water (those are the main ingredients of traditional tea) or it could be lavender milk tea made using lavender buds and milk!
Now, to address the western world’s biggest teareotype - “Chai Tea”! Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE chai tea lattes, but chai tea is actually masala chai! It is a type of tea that uses tea leaves + a blend of spices like cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorn, ginger and more to flavor the milk and water.
S’tea’mrolling on, when did it become chai? Probably in the early 19th century, milk and sugar were added to tea by traders from western states of India and/or West Bengal (where good quality milk was in abundance).
Now that you know masala chai ISN’T the only type of chai there is, you’ve got to give some of our curated chais a chance! We get our tealicious chai from sustainable fair-trade woman owned + operated tea suppliers that create opportunities, develop transparent and accountable relationships, promote fair trade, ensure the rights of children, pay fairly, support safe and empowering working conditions, cultivate environmental stewardship, and respect cultural identity!
Some of our blends in our shop at
- Astitva (Assam Chai)
- Sanyukta Bharatam (Classic Masala Chai)
- Astrakadir (Cardamom & Rose)
- Mangalyum (Marigold & Lavender)
Ok, that’s all for now!
Co-authored by Sargam Merchant and Madura Chaudhari