What is Masala Chai tea?
Masala Chai tea, native to India and loved around the world, isn’t defined by a specific variety of tea leaf, a particular cultivation or processing technique, or even a preferred method of consumption. It is only tied to the refreshing fragrance and flavor of tea leaves and the warming aroma of herbs and spices. In fact, that is what ‘Masala Chai’ translates to – ‘spiced tea.’ A fragrant, invigorating blend of tea (traditionally Assam tea) and spices including cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, is consumed in practically every Indian household. It has built a fan base in other parts of the world as well.
A cultural constant
In India – the land of Ayurveda – spiced tea historically held the position of herbal medicine. Tea plants grew wild in the northeastern hills of India in Assam and Darjeeling regions. In the 19th century, the British East India Company noticed the region’s potential for tea cultivation. Over the following decades, tea, and black tea, in particular, evolved into a daily beverage for Indian families. Since then, it has rooted itself in popular culture and lent itself to various spiced, milk-based preparations.
Traditionally, Masala Chai tea was prepared by boiling loose Assam tea leaves, green cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, ground ginger, cloves, and black peppercorn with substantial amounts of milk. Besides the usual black tea bases (Assam, Niligiri, and Ceylon tea), one can now find Masala Chai variants made with green tea or caffeine-free rooibos. Ever since it found a global audience, Masala Chai has also broadened its horizons by lending itself to new floral additives, such as rose petals and jasmine or lavender blossoms. Tea brands and sellers around the world package their special Masala Chais as dry loose leaf flavored blends, tea bags, and even instant mix powders and concentrates.
What is the difference between chai and masala chai?
Simply put, the word ‘chai’ translates to ‘tea’ in Hindi. In India, ‘chai’ generally refers to a preparation of sweet, milky black tea. So if you’re buying a pack of chai tea, it will likely contain black Assam tea that you can consume with milk and sugar. Often, chai tea may be referred to as chai latte in the west – again because of the added milk and sugar. Note that instant chai lattes may be sweeter than the chai tea you brew from scratch. ‘Masala chai’ means ‘spiced tea’ in Hindi, so you’re going to find spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves in it. It’s essentially a spiced black Indian tea that you consume with generous quantities of milk and sugar.
Tasting notes in reviews
Masala Chai’s caffeine-rich black tea base, together with its spices and herbs, results in a warming, invigorating, “fairly potent” and “full bodied” brew. The decoction method of preparation (boiling the chai with a generous amount of milk) makes a “spicy yet smooth” cup, “perfect for chilly winter mornings.” If your batch of Masala Chai has an Assam tea base, you can expect a “hazy amber liquor” with a “malty” taste and a “spicy kick in the back of the throat after each swallow.” The aroma of spices often stand out when dry but get more “balanced” once you steep the tea. Considered “wonderfully strong” by high caffeine tea drinkers, this is a “good pick-me-up” for cold mornings or slow afternoons. Those who prefer a more subtle sip, however, can find the flavor “too intense.”
Masala Chai is best enjoyed with milk and sugar, the smoothness of the former and the sweetness of the latter complementing the strong tea base and aromatic spices well. If you’d rather not use milk, steep it for about 5 minutes in boiling water. However, it is important to note that every batch of Masala Chai has its own unique composition of ingredients, and as such, its own prescribed steeping instructions. To preserve the flavor of your Masala Chai, make sure you store it in an airtight container.
Where to buy the best Masala Chai tea online?
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India’s Original Masala Chai Tea
An iconic, traditional Indian blend of signature Assam CTC with a myriad of aromatic Indian spices A flavorful cup of tea that weaves the malty flavors of Assam tea with a subtle hint of spice Best served as Milk Tea Best consumed as morning tea A traditional Indian-household tea that gained immense popularity around the globe. Discover the robust flavor of signature Assam CTC & orthodox leaves blended elegantly with fresh, aromatic Indian spices like cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, and cloves. Truly a flavorful cup of tea that weaves the malty flavors of Assam tea with the exotic essence of an Indian spice bazaar ; piquant and with a subtle hint of spice that results in an overall savory morning cup of tea.
Blend of smoked green tea, spices and saffron from the valley. Kahwa is a traditional green tea preparation made with exotic spices. Our signature blend features fine green tea which has been combined with rich ingredients, including cardamom, almonds, cinnamon and cloves. Its signature flavor is derived from the use of saffron strands, that are included in the blend. A truly celebratory tea, Kahwa is best served during brunch hours.*contains allergens: almond
Tulsi Basil Masala Chai
Healing Tulsi (basil) comes together with a range of aromatic Indian spices in a bold black tea. The traditional Indian Masala Chai with the treasured health benefits of Tulsi (basil). An assortment of fresh, aromatic spices like fresh ginger, green and brown cardamom, cinnamon, clove, black pepper, nutmeg and mace come together with the subtle sweet tones of basil in this robust, flavourful Assam Black Tea. Perfect for A soothing, healing and rejuvenating cup, with a medley of flavours, that pleases your senses from the first sip.
Green Tea Masala Chai
A superior green tea blend with the finest, aromatic Indian spices for a unique Chai experience! A skilfully curated blend of the best green teas from the splendid region of Darjeeling blended with the choicest, aromatic Indian spices like cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and black peppercorns. Indulge in a bright liquor carrying an energising aroma, the signature flavour of fresh greens, and tantalising warm tones of fresh spices in every sip. A unique chai tea blend, fit for the likes of connoisseurs and beginners alike!
Rooibos Chai Tea
Buttery, fresh, lilac. A stunning caffeine free alternative to the classic Indian inspired chai tea. Sip this full and savory blend any time of day to spice up your tea routine.
Turmeric Chai Tea Organic
This tasty tea blend gives a therapeutic twist to the traditional Chai Tea, without being blended with green or black teas. The primary active ingredient in Turmeric is curcumin, a potent antioxidant to help promote optimum health and well-being and support and your body's natural defenses. This uniquely different flavorful blend offers a delicious chai flavor while providing you with therapeutic qualities. Chai Teas are usually sweetened, so try adding a pinch of stevia, a dash of vanilla, or even milk. It tastes great whether served hot or cold! Caffeine-Free.
Masala Chai Tea Organic
This wonderfully unique and uplifting spicy Chai blend gives the traditional Chai tea a welcomed boost. The combination of Tulsi and Assam tea give this blend a rich, full-bodied flavor with aromatic notes of cinnamon and ginger. The Tulsi (Holy Basil) Tea blend is a wonderfully unique and healthful tea providing the diverse therapeutic properties of all three Holy Basil varieties.
More tea, please!
Isabelle is a freelance writer, self-taught tea nerd, and tea blending enthusiast. She is a herbalist with a strong interest in Ayurveda. Each year Isabelle travels extensively, returning with tea samples from around the world. She is a big fan of handmade teaware and Japanese green teas.