Chai (pronounced chaī) is a kind of tea; it usually contains: black tea, milk, spices and sweetener. It is most popular in Southern Asia, though in recent years has gained attention in North America. Many Chai drinkers attest that Chai creates a warm, homey, passive feeling in the drinker. In America, one can often find Chai mixes- the Chai equivalent of 'Instant Coffee'. These mixes (though delicious) usually lack a taste which can only be found in home-brewed chai. Chai is a Pakistani-Indian beverage, made quite like the English Black Tea. It has a subtle flavor and is meant to be gulped down and dipped into with a tea rusk. It has a nice beige/caramel color, and has a little more thickness to it like what coffee has. Chai is currently popularized in America and England. It is also featured in many coffee shops like Starbucks.
Chai can be traced back to a Hindu healing practice known as "ayurveda"; a mixture not unlike today's Chai was used to treat physical ailments.
Chai is the Hindi word (Hindi: चाय) for tea, from the Persian ćāy (چای) and ultimately the Mandarin chá (茶). In English, the term is used to refer to what is more properly known as masala chai (Hindi (मसाला चाय [masālā chaiy], "spiced tea"). Words for tea either derive from the Mandarin and Cantonese cha in Guangzhou or the Min tê in Fujian. Cha derivatives are the word for tea in Arabic, Persian, Kurdish, Turkish, Urdu, Russian (чай), and Czechian (čaj). Te derivatives are the word for tea in English, Dutch, Hebrew, Tamil, Polish, and Swedish.
There are different methods of making Chai in different regions. There is one distinct difference between Indian and Pakistani Chai: Indian Chai has a spicy taste, whereas Pakistani Chai has a lighter, more creamier touch.
- Black tea - the most commonly used type for chai in the Hindustan is crush-tear-curl black tea, easily found at Southeast Asian grocers. This tea looks like pellets and is able to stand up to the boiling on a stove-top that creates the chai masala infusion.
- Earl Grey
- Darjeeling Tea: Hard to find, but often considered on of the finest black teas available.
- Steamed Milk is best, but takes time and skill to prepare
- Low-Fat Milk works fine
- Whole Milk, Creamer, or Dried Milk
- Honey: Often used as sweetener. Use in moderation, it is powerful!
- Sugar or Artificial Sugar: For a more Western tea taste
- Cloves: Made from a dried flower, common in Chai.
- Cardamom Seeds: Very common in Chai. Often de-shelled or ground for preparation in Chai, though leaving them in the shell is not unheard of.
- Cinnamon: Common in westernized Chai, especially "winter" or "Christmas" Chai. Both Cinnamon Stick and Cinnamon Sugar can be used.
- Ginger: Common in Chai, can be used either whole or in powdered form.
- Peppercorn: This is what is inside of pepper-shakers, it is very common in Chai. Can be used either whole or ground.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: Found in "Christmas" or "Pumpkin Pie" Chai. Should be used in moderation, as it can be overpowering.