What is the first thing that you have attempted to prepare when in kitchen? Isn’t it tea? Tea or chai, as it is known in Indian terminology, is the first item that everyone tries to make. Combine water, milk, tea leaves and sugar and steep it for some time. Your chai is ready! Spices like cinnamon, clove, cardamom, ginger and fennel are occasionally added to make masala chai.
Chai – The Flavor of India
Unfortunately, this is only a small portion of the world of beverage. However, till date, the general belief is that chai is the black blend consumed with sugar and milk. This is, in fact, a wrong notion. An authentic and good chai will offer a perfect balance of milk and tea. Most importantly, chai is not steeped, it is brewed. You should brew it in such a way that offers perfect combination of the sweetness of milk with added sugar and tannic flavor of black tea.
Purists do not like the idea of mixing milk with tea. They prefer tea as itself. According to them, milk destroys the personality of tea. On the contrary, chai lovers are very enthusiastic about milk tea. To them, chai is very welcoming just like a butter toast in the morning or wood in winter evening. It is a refreshing drink for all season and all time. No drink is as soothing and comfortable as a cup of chai.
The History behind Chai
Chai is regarded as a native drink of India. During first half of 20th century, Tea Board of India decided to conduct advertising campaign to make tea popular to people. They made this effort to increase tea consumption in the country. Now, what they promoted was a low grade variety which is mostly made from dust and fanning obtained as residue after tea leaves are processed for higher quality. So, these blends are dark in color and have strong flavor. Thus, a bit sugar and milk becomes necessary for this tea.
Later in 60s, with the invention of CT machines, better quality tea was produced at a large scale. Loose leaf blends were quite costly and it was not possible to commercially trade it in the country. Low grade CTC leaves were much affordable but, it required sugar and milk for the right taste. With time, consuming tea became more functional than social ritual. It became an intrinsic part of common man and tea was included in their daily diet.