Posted in Kafevend Blog
As autumn sets in and the temperatures drop, we leave behind the multitude of iced beverages used to cool us off on a hot summer's day and turn to warmer fare. Whilst hot chocolate is an old favourite, masala chai has become increasingly popular here at the Kafevend blog HQ. Join us then as we give you the low down on this spiced up tea. First up, a quick history lesson!
History of Chai
India is one of the countries where wild tea first grew thousands of years ago. Its neighbour China was a far bigger fan of the drink though and has a long associated history with tea. The part of that history which involved Europeans turning up wanting to buy tea wasn't a very salubrious time however. China and many European countries- including us, as represented by the British East India Company- butted heads a number of times over the trade of tea. China wasn't interested in what Europe had to offer, and would only trade the tea for silver. This was expensive, as you would imagine, and so the British East India Company devised a less than moral way to make money to obtain the silver they needed- selling opium on a black market within China itself.
This act led China and the UK to war several times, and the British East India Company were eager to find a way to break China's monopoly on the sale of tea. Prospectors for the company found the answer in northern India after finding native tea plants there, and promptly set to work establishing their own plantations, cutting out China as the middle man. The tea industry boomed in India and production rocketed, but consumption within the country never took off in the same way. In the early 20th century a big marketing campaign was launched in India to promote drinking tea, in the British fashion of course- black with milk and sugar. As is the case with any country being handed another country's traditional food or drink, India decided to put its own spin on things and created masala chai as a result.
Like British tea, masala chai uses black tea, milk and sugar, though with an extra helping of the latter two. The masala part, meaning mixed spice, consists of green cardamom and ginger as a base, along with spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and black peppercorns. Masala chai has been exported all around the globe, and can be found in a variety of forms such as tea bags, concentrates and spice mixes, like the popular pumpkin spice mix. Given the season of course, you might like to try it the old fashioned way- why not have a go at this recipe?
(Thank you to 'Ninchen' from the instructables site for the recipe)
1 teaspoon black tea
2 green cardamom pods
2 inch chunk of ginger
3 pieces of cinnamon bark
sugar to taste
1-Split open the cardamom pods (use both the pod and seeds), break up the cinnamon bark, peel and chop the ginger and place them with the rest of the ingredients into a saucepan.
2-On a high heat, bring the mixture to a boil and let it continue to boil for 2 minutes. The milk will boil over during this time- when it does, take the saucepan off the heat for a few seconds before placing it back on.
3-Pour the tea through a strainer into a pair of glasses and enjoy!
This recipe serves as a great base for a little experimentation-you can try adding other spices like nutmeg, star anise and fennel for starters and work out your favourite combination- be sure to share it on Twitter!