Fun Facts · Spiced And Blended Teas

What Is Chai And How Is It Different Than The Average Cup Of Tea?

Six Spiced Chai Blends, All With Unique Ingredients.

You are in line at your local coffee shop and thinking about the chai latte. I know this because it is often what I am doing! If I am not at an actual tea house, many times I am drawn to the the part of the menu that reads chai latte. There is something warm and inviting about chai that usually hits the right spot. Would it surprise you to know that the word itself actually means “tea”? When I heard that, I was very surprised.

More About This Tea Style

If you are at your local coffee shop, you may order your usual chai latte and enjoy the amazing spice that warms you up or is a delicious addition to the day combined with cold milk. Chai is a the Hindi word for tea. Funny enough, when you say you are drinking a chai tea, you are really stating that you are enjoying “tea tea”. This was a common error by me early in my tea journey. One of, if not the most popular types of this style of tea is masala, which means spiced. In India, masala chai is so popular that they simple call it chai. There is some lore behind this wonderful tea you should check out! A common preparation is to combine the tea with milk. I usually brew mine and add a little bit of cream and honey.

What Goes Into Chai?

The way I started out drinking chai was the masala variety. Many of these blends include some sort of black tea with various spices. These may include cinnamon, ginger, clove, all spice, cardamom, fennel, black pepper, and more. Over the years I have experienced spiced tea blends with more unique ingredients such as turmeric, rose petals, and smoked black pepper. You can check out my review of that blend here! All of these add a little twist to the experience, which I enjoy. As I have moved along in my tea journey, I have come to love the very unique blends and how they differ hot or cold. I focus on how they hit my senses. The addition of spices, combined with black tea is how this style differentiates itself from others.

Is There A Certain Type You Should Try?

If you have enjoyed a chai latte at some point, you have already dipped into this awesome style. Many chai lattes out there are of the masala variety and include some type of a pre-made concentrate which is a liquid that you mix with your choice of milk hot or cold. I recommend trying different types at tea houses or coffee shops in your travels. Be sure to smell the blends and ask about the ingredients. This is important in case a blend is heavy on ginger, it may not go well with milk for a latte! Don’t be afraid if there is an unusual spice in there. Try to think of it as a new experience. The first time I had a spiced chai blend with turmeric and smoked pepper in it, I thought I was going to hate it, but the combination added a depth to the flavor which I ended up loving. There are so many loose and bagged varieties out there.

If you find yourself trying unique blends in the future, leave me a comment below!

-Ryan

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