What is Chai Tea?
Chai is a spiced tea blend that usually contains black tea leaves, combined with strong spices such as cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and black peppercorns. The spiced tea mixture is generally brewed strong with milk and sweetened with honey and sugar.
Components of Chai
Since traditional chai beverages can vary from region to region, there is no one recipe that defines chai. The beverage usually consists of four main categories: tea, milk, spices, and sweetener.
Tea - The Assam and Darjeeling black teas of India are one of the most popular as a chai base. There are also chai blends using green tea, herbal, or red rooibos.
Spices - The spices, or "masala", used in chai will differ by climate, cultural preference, and region. The dominant spices traditionally found in chai are cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, black peppercorns, and cloves. Nutmeg, fennel, vanilla, and star anise are also occasionally added to some blends.
Milk - Western versions of chai are generally made with cow milk or dairy alternatives, like almond or soy milk. Some recipes call for steeping chai in water and then diluting it with milk. Other chai recipes suggest simmering the chai spices in a combination of water and milk, or completely in milk.
Sweetener - The most common types of sweeteners used to make chai are brown sugar, white sugar, and honey. Cane sugar is also a popular sweetener in India.