Did you know? Our current Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi once sold tea at Vadnagar station, Gujrat. Chai, as we call it or Tea as the world calls it is an inevitable part of the life of most Indians. It is the heart of every household and is undoubtedly the most famous beverage throughout India. You can find it in every nook and corner of the country. It is a welcome drink in India. From an elite five-star hotel to a roadside stall, one thing is common in the menu and that is “Chai”. It is a part of our everyday life, some people need it the moment they wake up and some need it throughout the day. It is a part of every event of the Indian household, like in a heated political discussion, a social gathering or a party with friends. But there is not much known about the wonder drink by everyone, let us enlighten you with these 20 facts about chai we are sure you did not know.
History Of Masala Chai
The “Masala Chai” translates to spice tea and though its origins are debatable, it is believed to be originated some 5000 years ago by an Emperor of China who saw tea leaves brewing in hot water, he tasted it and loved it, hence discovering tea. Tea drinking may have begun in the Yunnan region during theShang Dynasty in China, when it was used for medicinal purposes. Another popular theory is that King Harshvardhana of the Gupta Empire, a great philanthropist (he patronized the Nalanda University) developed chai to get through the long hours of courtroom discussions. This habit then further trickled down to the common people.
Chai As Ayurvedic
Earlier, people mainly drank chai (tea) in sickness due to its health benefits, but it gradually became an inseparable part of the Indian culture. The chai is considered to be Ayurvedic because of the presence of healing herbs and spices in it like Basil, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Rose petals, Nutmeg, Ginger, Mint leaves etc.
The early name for Masala Chai was ‘Kadha’ which means medicine in Hindi. It was considered a magical drink that could cure communicable diseases like sore throat, cold, headache and fever. It was also considered as an immunity booster because of the presence of spices like cinnamon, white pepper, ginger and cardamom.
4. Health Benefits
The Masala Chai can beat fatigue, hangover. It help in softening chapped lips and also prevent ovarian and lung cancer. The anti-oxidant properties of this Indian Masala Chai also help in aiding digestion, fighting anxiety, depression and diabetes (if you drink without sugar). It is quite a wondrous drink, what do you think?
Mentioned In Sanjeevani Book
In a rather interesting take on people, it is also believed that the Sanjeevani book is one of the herbs of the Masala Chai. The first tea shrub that is mentioned in Ramayana as part of the Sanjeevani book goes by the name of Camellia Sinensis that means green tea and was discovered by the British in 1823.
Different From Black Tea
The difference between ‘Indian Masala Chai’ and normal tea is that the former is prepare with both water and milk and the latter is just prepare with water, and also called ‘Black tea’. The black tea is quite popular in the western countries and was popularised by the Britishers during their colonisation.
Milks Use For Masala Chai
Mostly buffalo or cow milk is used to make Masala Chai but some people also use goat or soy milk now. As the world now rushes towards vegan options, people are going to healthier options like unsweetened almond milk and coconut milk. They are high on the pocket, but are definitely healthy for you and the environment.
Promotion Of Masala Chai
Black tea was drunk by Britishers in the early 1900s, but when the British owned Indian Tea Association started to make and promote tea for Indian people, they used milk, sugar and spices. This was specifically done to cut costs as black tea cost them a big hole in their pocket.
9. Production Of Chai
India’s production of tea in the world is second highest, 70% of which is consumed within the country. The largest producer of tea in the world is China. India produces of 1,208,780 tonnes of tea whereas China produces a whopping 1,804,655 tonnes of tea. Both these countries have long history of cultural attachment with the beverage.
In India, the Masala Chai is usually made with Black tea with an exception of Kashmir where Gunpowder Green tea is used. Kashmir is famous for its Pink tea that has a creamy texture with a salty taste. It is made with saffronstrands,cinnamon bark, cardamom pods, Kashmiri roses to add a great aroma and green tea leaves and a pinch of baking soda to add the zing of salty taste. It is called as “Kahwah” in Kashmir.
11. Varieties Of Tea
Tea is generally divided based on where it grows and the way it is processed. There are various varieties of tea in India, Assam tea, Darjeeling tea, Terai tea, Munnar tea, Kangra tea, Nilgiri tea, Karnataka tea etc. Tea needs a lot of moisture hence the wetter the area, the better is the tea. This is why best tea is grown in the foothills of Himalayas i.e. north-eastern regions of India.
12. The Best Tea Production
The most precious tea is grown in Darjeeling, West Bengal. It is considered to be world’s best tea because of its growing techniques which were borrowed by the East India Company from China in the 1800s.It is one of the most expensive teas and is only produced in single batches.
13. Cutting Chai
In Mumbai, half a cup of chai is called as ‘Cutting Chai’ and a full cup is called as ‘Double Cutting Chai’. It is a popular term used in Mumbai. Cutting chai is sold at 5 bucks whereas double cutting chai is sold for 10 bucks. People often drink it with vada pav or dabeli.
Iced Masala Chai
The Masala Chai can be served hot as well as a hot beverage. It is really versatile in its true nature and blends with most ingredients. Iced Masala Chai has a creamy texture and a fine taste of spices making it a perfect drink to cool down in the scorching heat of summers.
Desi Style To Serve Chai
The most authentic way to serve the Masala Chai is in an earthen small pot called ‘Kulhad’ which is made out of the mud. The aroma and texture of the made make the tea even more delectable and connected to the roots .After drinking from the kulhad, it is broken and thrown back in the mud.
American Style Tea
The Americans call Masala Chai as “Chai Tea Latte”. It is a very famous on the Starbucks menu. People define the taste as somewhere between a drink and a pudding. More and more people around the world are shifting from coffee to tea as its way less caffeinated and way healthier.
Calories In Tea
It is said to have around 60 calories which is not so much compared to other beverages. A cup of coffee has up to 1200 calories and soft drinks like coke have 190 calories. Masala chai can be further reduced in calories if we drink it with unsweetened milk or do not add any sugar. We can instead use healthier sweeteners like jaggery.
Amount Of Caffeine
Masala chai contains only 40mg caffeine as supposed to coffee that has 120 mg of caffeine. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system helping us to keep alert and be active. But, it should only be taken in lower amounts as it can get addictive and effect mood and hamper stamina of people.
Pakodas With Chai
The most favourite season to have Masala Chai is the rainy season. People have chai with pakodas. It is also most fondly drank with Parle G biscuits or rusk. It’s a drink for the rich as well as the poor, hence, people drink it with all kinds of snacks and foods.
Popularity Of Masala Chai
There is a committee in the parliament persuading to make Chai the national drink of the country considering its popularity. The campaign to make it a national drink has reached new heights and hopefully, by 2017, it will be declared the national drink of India. All our hopes are up for it!
Interesting, right? Well, that’s how special the Indian Masala Chai is. It’s not just a drink for India, it’s a wholesome cup of values, cultures, traditions, nature and family. It’s spicy and sweet all at the same time. You must be craving for a cup now, right? Here is a small recipe for you to have the best Masala Chai.
First prepare the masala for the chai, in a mixer, grind cloves, cinnamon, elaichi(cardamom) and mint leaves. Now transfer the mixture to a saucepan of boiling water. Add grated ginger to add a zest to its taste. Add sugar as per your preference. You can also sweeten the tea with honey or jaggery. Then add milk and bring the mixture to boil. Add the tea and let it boil. This is when you can smell the aroma of the tea and masala blending into the sugary milk water. Remove the heat and let it sit for a few minutes. Now pour the hot tea into teacups carefully.
Now sit back, relax and enjoy the amazing wonder called masala chai.