Masala chai or at The Good Tea Company's Bollywood Chai is one of our most popular products. It's a tea steeped in history and one worth knowing.
The first ever time I ever drank chai was I was 17 year old, in a small village near Uttar Pradesh, India. We were volunteering and silly 17 year olds did not pack any water. However, since there was no bottled around - they served us hot masala chai.
I have to confess, the first time I had it, it was surprising. It was hot, fragrant and spicy. Really spicy and I ended up being more thirsty than I did before I drank it.
But it was a flavour I never stopped thinking about.
What is Masala chai?
Masala chai, or spiced tea, was introduced in the early 1900s by the Tea Board of India to encourage Indians to drink tea. Tea was expensive and so the spices were added to bulk up the tea - just as the Japanese added rice to sencha to keep the teas going for longer.
Drinking a brew of spices had a longer history however, spice tea is a staple in Ayuverdic medicine, going back thousands of years. Combine tea, spices, sugar and milk together as the brilliant chaiwallahs (tea vendors) had done around the turn of the century and you have a winning combination.
What does it taste like?
It depends. Masala is the Hindi word for spice. In India, you could actually go out and buy chai masala i.e. spices for your tea. Just there are hundreds of blends of garam masala - the quintessential Indian spice for cooking, there are thousands of blends of masala chai. In India, the quintessential spices are cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise and ginger. However, most I have seen some Western mixes are heavy on the cardamom with some vanilla added in!
Which is better?
It’s to your preference really. Here at The Good Tea Company, we love our masala chai or Bollywood Chai as we call it to be warm, gingery and sweet - like a holiday. You can experiment yourself - chai is a blend of spices - just boil tea, milk and sugar together.
How do I make this?
Masala chais unlike other teas are boiled to extract goodness of. There is nothing better than a hot cup of chai on a rainy morning. Unlike most teas, I prefer to boil the tea and milk for 5 minutes.
2 tsp of Bollywood Chai
250 ml water
100 ml milk
1 tsp of sugar (or more)
Makes 1 cup. Scale up for for more people i.e. 8 tsp of Bollywood chai for 4 people
Add hot water to the pot with milk. Bring to a simmer and add in your tea. Boil for 5 minutes. Strain and serve.