Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things.Chaim Potok
More than just tea, chai is a tea drink that blends a variety of spices to bring out a whole collection of delicious flavors to enjoy. National Chai Day offers the opportunity to learn about and celebrate this unique beverage.
History of National Chai Day
Believed to date back at least 5000 years, chai is a word that in many cultures and languages simply means “tea”. In fact, the word chai is used to mean tea in at least 56 languages as well as other dialects.
Some folklore suggests the story of the origin of the spicy tea drink was that a king was in search of a beverage that could be used for healing, and chai was what was offered to him. Historically, the people of India have been known for infusing certain spices into their tea which was used for Ayurvedic healing and medicinal purposes.
Chai lattes didn’t start appearing in Western coffee shops until the mid-1990s, although it is unclear exactly when. They may have grown in popularity to give an option for those who don’t like or want coffee to still have a delicious beverage to enjoy while out at a coffee shop.
Though it probably was not originally served sweet, chai has developed into a beverage that is usually sweetened with brown sugar, maple syrup or honey to bring out the flavors. It is often served as a latte, meaning that it is mixed with some type of milk.
National Chai Day was founded in order to show appreciation for and celebrate the delicious and unique spicy flavors of this beloved beverage.
National Chai Day Timeline
Chai is created in India
It’s unclear exactly when, but the story goes that a king wanted a drink made with spices to be used for health and healing.
Tea is first introduced to England
Dutch traders begin bringing tea to Europe in large quantities and it arrives in London coffeehouses as a novelty drink.
Chai makes its way to the West
Chai drinks find their way into Western homes, perhaps through menus at Indian restaurants.
Chai Lattes appear on coffeehouse menus
Appearing in coffeehouses as “chai tea lattes”, chai makes its way into the hearts of Americans through Starbucks and other companies.
Oregon Chai and Tazo start tea businesses
On the west coast of the United States, two main players in the chai world start doing business.
How to Celebrate National Chai Day
National Chai Day offers a great reason to celebrate and here are some ideas about how to get started with that celebration:
Enjoy a Cup or Glass of Chai Tea
Those who are big drinkers of coffee might want to try to give it up even just for the day and replace it with chai. But if that seems impossible, then it’s okay to simply add a chai drink into the day at some point!
The most popular way to drink chai in the west is as a Chai Latte drink. This is made with milk, which can be regular dairy milk or a milk substitute like almond milk, oat milk or soy milk. A chai latte is typically served hot, but it can certainly also be served cold and poured over ice for a warm weather vibe.
Have a Chai Concentrate Taste Test
Many companies are now selling concentrated versions of chai that can be kept in the refrigerator and added to milk to make a chai latte. National Chai Day would be a great time to purchase a few different varieties and set up a blind taste test to see which one is better.
Perhaps this could be done in the breakroom at work, or arranged as a little mini Chai Party at home where each participant brings a different brand of chai concentrate. These are some of the most commonly known brands:
- Tazo. One of the early players in the chai game, Tazo originated in 1994in Portland, Oregon and was eventually purchased by the Starbucks chain.
- Oregon Chai. One of the biggest makers of chai in the US, this company also started in 1994 after four women went on a trip to India. This version is even organic and gluten free.
- Trader Joe’s Spiced Chai. With more than 500 stores across the United States, Trader Joe’s offers good prices on products that lean more toward the natural.
- Kilogram Organic Masala Chai Tea. This version by American tea company Kilogram calls for blending one part of the mix with three parts of milk.
Learn How to Make Chai Tea
Making a chai tea base at home is a great way to enjoy National Chai Day. Plus, it’s much more affordable than ordering it at a coffee shop or restaurant! Once the concentrated base is made, it can be kept in the refrigerator for 7-10 days. Simply add a favorite type of milk, typically with a 1:1 ratio, to turn it into a delicious hot or cold chai latte.
To make an easy chai latte concentrate, start with a pot of boiling water. Add star anise, cinnamon sticks, ginger, black pepper, cardamom pods, whole cloves and freshly grated nutmeg. Boil for 3-5 minutes, then add black tea and boil for another 5 minutes. Remove from boil, sweeten with brown sugar or maple syrup and allow the mixture to steep for another 15 minutes. Cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
Try Different Types of Chai Tea
National Chai Day is the ideal opportunity to enjoy different variations of chai and discover which you like best. However, with so many different options, it might be difficult to choose! Here are descriptions of a few different chai beverages to get the research started:
- Masala Chai. This is a traditional Indian way of drinking hot tea, it is especially delicious on a cool morning. With black tea infused into milk and water, the spices include varieties such as cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, and nutmeg.
- Tulsi Chai. Using one of India’s most sacred herbs, holy basil, this tea is thought to reduce stress and strengthen the immune system. Tulsi chai can be made with milk or without milk and it is often consumed in the morning.
- Bombay Cutting Chai. This type of tea is considered to be so strong that it is only served in half glasses. It is a modified version of the Masala Chai, with spices like cardamom, fennel and ginger and is named after Bombay, the city in India that “never sleeps”.
- Kashmiri Kahwa. A traditional green tea that is made with exotic spices, the most important of which is saffron strands. Almonds, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves are all also added to this blend of tea which is traditionally served in the late morning.
National Chai Day FAQs
Does chai tea have caffeine?
Most chai tea is made from black tea so it does have caffeine, but it is roughly 1/4 to 1/3 the amount of caffeine compared to coffee.
Is chai tea good for you?
Many of the spices in chai are healthy, with benefits such as antioxidants, improved digestion, increased focus, reduced inflammation, as well as antiviral and antimicrobial properties.
How does chai tea taste?
Chai is a black tea that tastes a bit sweet with a lot of warm, comforting spice flavors including cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom and pepper.
How to make chai tea latte?
Chai lattes can be easily made using a commercially available chai latte concentrate mixed with a preferred type of milk, served hot or cold.