Brief history of chai teaChai tea is in many countries, for example Hindi, the word for ‘tea’. The tea dates back over 5000 years ago with its roots in South Asia. It is a spiced tea with milk and usually sweetened. In the early 1700s the chai culture reached Western Europe spreading from East Asia. Around the 1830s black tea was gradually added to the existing chai tea. Also indicating a fear from the British East India Company for the monopolization of tea by the chinese industry worldwide. Mixing up with the existing spices it’s taste and recipes got the more modern flavours as we know today. The tea is now also known as Masala Chai, or simply Chai, Chai tea or Chai Latte. The more modern version of chai tea created a surge of sales for the ‘new’ beverage.
Production of chai teaTeas are harvested and are withered at first by blowing air on them. The process of the tea is either CTC (crush, tear curl) or orthodox. The CTC method produces leaves of fanning or dust grades. There are different grades of quality by the use of this method. The method produces dark colored leaves and is used for a better quality from medium to low quality leaves. Orthodox processing can be done by a machine or by hand. The production by hand delivers higher quality. Although various methods are used for different tea types, The process by hand delivers higher quality tea especially for the connoisseurs. The tea can be completely oxidized this way. In the next step is the oxidation of the leaves under controlled temperatures and humidity. Then the leaves will be dried to arrest the oxidation process. Finally the product (tea leaves) will be sorted on quality (grade) accordingly to the size:
- whole leaf
The tea can be brewed with loose tea leaves or without. The tea leaves are from the Camellia sinensis. The plant leaves are used in the true chai tea. Added to the mix are leaves from a black tea plant. Most commonly used are Darjeeling or Assam. Chai tea has a long history and has been produced in many ways. However the most common ingredient of chai tea is black tea mixed with strong spices. Commonly added spices are ginger, cinnamon, black peppercorn, cardamom and gloves. Furthermore added to these spicey mixes are milk with a sweetening of sugar or honey.