Story & recipe of masala chai
If you’ve visited India, you’d have come across Masala Chai teas. From fancy restaurants to the ‘chai wallahs’ aka tea vendors walking round with their flasks peddling to commuters... chai tea permeates all moments & all situations, & I love that something so delicious is equally available & accessible to the rich as well as the less privileged to enjoy.
The history of chai is debated & there’s several versions, one of which is that it’s an Ayurvedic drink that was developed by Indian royalty centuries ago to aid mild ailments.
Tea wasn’t even a part of the ingredient until the 1900s when the British owned Indian Tea Association promoted the drinking of tea to India. However, tea leaves were incredibly expensive so to keep costs down, vendors combined it with sugar, spices & milk to keep it flavourful.
Development of mass industry in the 60s brought along the Crush, Tear, Curl (CTC) production of tea leaves, which made tea a much more affordable ingredient, as a result, chai began to grow in popularity amongst them masses.
While there are certain staple ingredients, every family & food joint likely has their way of concocting their version of chai while staying faithful to the sweet, milky tea flavour with varying degree of heat & spice. I’ve tried to make quick versions of chai but I’ve found that it’s most delicious & flavoursome when boiled & simmered for a short period so the spices are infused with the milky tea.
2. Lower the heat & simmer for a few minutes until you start to catch a scent of the spices
3. Add the milk & sugar, bring the concoction to boil but once it starts boiling, take it down to simmer again
4. This time, let it simmer for longer (10-15 mins), stirring it occasionally to allow the flavours to infuse
You’d began to notice the scent of the spices becoming more pronounced
A skin will form - just stirred it away, otherwise it can be filtered out later
5. Taste - perhaps you want it sweeter/spicier/more milky/stronger tea - adjust to your liking
If you’ve added some ingredients, let it simmer a bit more
6. Strain the solids (if required) & serve the beverage hot
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Hongyi the yogi
Full-time yoga teacher & trainee yoga therapist in London. Eager to share, eager to learn!