I Love Chai. Simply for its color, the mild bitterness, the aroma, the warmth and calm disposition in a foam topped, cream crowned, cozy tea-cup that tells me ” With me, you can do much better than you do already”. I had been an avid tea- drinker and a fan of caffeine for many years now, hunting for that best brewed cup ever since my early teens in the Hills of Nilgiris. Even in warm and windy June at Thoonganagaram Madurai, the love for that steamy cup to start my day and get the day going as a busy stay-at-home wife of a busy office-goer, the amour for that re-assuring cup had not faded. So post marriage I decided to do a loving post on lovely Chai Tea!
Tea. Popular beverage, ever shelf- sitting kitchen companion, elixir of refreshment and brewed energy booster and caffeine and polyphenol-laden motivator. Camelia sinensis (Tea) boasts itself as the second most consumed beverage in the world, losing only to water.( Not to confuse with coffee the second most traded “commodity” second to crude oil. Over 3000 varieties of tea exist to date.
Food today is allowed to be so innovative and versatile with non-barricaded cultural exchanges (which are welcome because we need VARIETY), that a regional dish is allowed to undergo many improvisations before incarnating as something new, something loved by people (with what may seem like no limits to morphing food’s flavors with each experimented recipe, sometimes totally off-track than the usual way of cooking a dish).
Chefs now are as much a celebrity as star- sportspeople.There are Australian restaurants that brew the perfect “Chai-Latte”, and there exists a version of Chai Tea Ice Cream. (Perhaps we Indians thought Kulfi was the ultimate spiced dairy frozen dessert)
We shall lunge upon the facts and facets of tea and “Chai”- the seemingly Indian drink of black tea brewed in milk, optionally with spices.
Here are a few steamingly heart warming Tea and then Chai facts:
1.Tea seems to have originated in South-West China and popularised as a MEDICAL DRINK.
2.An accountable mention of Tea is in a 3rd Century Medical record by Ancient Chinese Physician ,Hua Tuo.
3.The English commercially popularized Tea in India.
4. Tasseography is the art of reading tea leaves. (Must have already known it if you are a potterhead).
Tasseography is a divination or fortune-telling method that interprets patterns in tea leaves, coffee grounds, or wine sediments. Source: Wikipedia
5.There are four main types of tea (All from the same plant)- Black, Green, White and Oolong. The treatment of the leaves gives them different characteristics.
6.Afternoon tea, called low tea was introduced by Anna, the Seventh Duchess of Bedford to entertain guests with sweets and tea in an attempt to reduce the gap between the afternoon meal and dinner. It is called low tea because it was served on low tables.
7. Chai Tea is black tea brewed into milk with sugar or popularly Masala-Chai tea with spices and herbs as versatile as vanilla, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, coriander, cloves and fennel seeds that are roast and ground and pre-mixed with black tea or added to boiling milk and brewed. Other versions of black tea boil down tea to a decoction, infusing milk later.
8.”Chai” comes from the Persian word “Chay” which again roots back to the Chinese word “Chá” which means tea.
9.Chai is now prepared with so much variation and versatility and consumed as “Chai Latte”, “Chai Tea Spice Cappucino”, “Chai-Nog” with Egg Nog, “Chai Cup-cakes”
10.The blend of spices brewed hot is believed to increase peace of mind, release unwanted body heat, aid digestion, reduce nausea and stimulate the mind. If you feel its worth the time- Go grab that cup of Chai!