Though exact geological origins remain unknown, chai tea – or masala chai – is said to have been created several thousand years ago as a healing spiced beverage to be used in traditional medicinal practice Ayurveda, which incorporates herbs and spices in its treatments. When tea plantations were set up in Assam, India, in the early 1800s, black tea took hold as the drink’s signature base. Its popularity as an Indian recreational drink blossomed in the early 1900s, alongside its worldwide demand, evidenced by its name. Although ‘chai’ means tea, the global crossover has made ‘Chai tea’ universally synonymous with the fragrant, spicy masala chai. As its spices are warming and generally used in traditional medicine, there’s no wonder the resultant tea serves as a soothing tonic for the soul.
STILL GOING STRONG
Chai tea is recognised for both its distinct taste and notable health benefits derived from its ingredients. While chai tea recipes vary based on country and culture, the drink essentially consists of black tea, milk, honey or sugar, and its staple spices: cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and black peppercorns. As such, chai tea is packed with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, with a boost of protein from the addition of milk. Alongside reducing blood sugar levels and nausea, chai tea is linked to better heart health and digestion. Depending on its place and maker, the drink’s core ingredients are often mixed and matched with complementary additions, from subtly sweet flavours like vanilla and lavender, to other spices such as star anise and nutmeg.
SWEET, SPICY AND SUSTAINABLE
Robust, creamy, and layered, chai teas serve as the perfect base for contemporary creations. Now, having evolved into more complex drinks such as lattes, mocktails, and cocktails, customers have started enjoying the nuanced, fragrant undertones of chai tea-based drinks. The rise of the discerning customer and drink innovation, however, brings with it an increase in conscious consumerism. As environmental effects of the trademark teabags raise concern due to their non-biodegradable natures, establishments constantly seek ways to diminish this impact. To sustain both their source of trade and inspiration, the beverage community are choosing to do so through responsible means, whether opting for fairtrade ingredients and organic teas, or using tea flavour solutions for their latest creations instead.
CHAI RUM PUNCH
10ml MONIN Chai Tea syrup
40ml dark rum
30ml pineapple juice
30ml pomegranate juice
Combine ingredients in a shaker filled with ice cubes
Pour into a glass filled with ice cubes
LYCHEE CHAI ICED TEA
30ml MONIN Chai Tea syrup
15ml Le Fruit de MONIN Lychee
Combine all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice cubes