- rich black tea
- heavy milk
- a combination of various spices
- a sweetener
The spices used vary from region to region and among households in India. The most common are cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and pepper. Indian chai produces a warming, soothing effect, acts as a natural digestive aid and gives one a wonderful sense of well being. It’s difficult to resist a second cup.
Drinking chai is part of life in India and most Indian’s are amazed at all the current fuss in the West. Many who have traveled in India come away with fond chai drinking experiences.
In the past three years we’ve seen a phenomenal growth in the popularity and interest in chai. Chai has become very common at over-the-counter specialty beverage shops and there is a growing line of prepackaged consumer products. Many industry analysts are predicting that chai will eventually become as popular and common as coffee lattes and cappuccinos.
Great chai can often be found in Indian restaurants along with great food, but making your own chai provides immense satisfaction (and makes the house smell yummy!). Recipes and tastes for chai vary widely and a multitude of chai recipes are used around the world.
Indian grocers carry various chai masala mixes which you can use to make your own chai. Commercially produced concentrates can be found at many health food grocers and coffee shops. Ingredients for making your own chai are available just about everywhere.
Of course the modern world has elevated chai to new planes of experience–chai ices, milkshakes, chocolate chai, non-fat, low-cal sweeteners, decaf, and so on.
We prefer traditional freshly made chai: hot, creamy, fragrant with black tea, fresh cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, peppercorns and enough sugar to bring out the spice flavor. While we personally drink regular tea without sugar, chai must have sweetness or the spices seem to lose their full robustness.