WHAT IS A CHAI LATTE?
Aromatic, milky and gently spiced, the chai lattes have been gaining mass popularity over the last couple of years, becoming a comforting hot or cold drink for many across the world. Despite its name, a chai latte does not contain any coffee, raising the question ‘What is a chai latte?’ In this blog post, we get to the bottom of what exactly a chai latte is, what it’s made from and where it originates from.
How Do You Make a Chai Latte?
A chai latte is made by mixing hot steamed milk or a plant-based alternative with black tea that has been infused with spices. The types of spices used may vary per blend or café, but will typically include cardamon, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Chai lattes are also usually sweetened with sugar or syrup to create a delicious caramelised taste.
What is Chai?
The word Chai actually means ‘Tea’. Therefore, you should refrain from saying ‘Chai Tea’ if you really want to sound like a pro! The origin of the word originates from the Hindustani word for any tea which was grown within the Assam region of India.
In the Western world, when we refer to chai and the chai within chai lattes, we are really referring to masala chai, which is made from steeping black tea (usually Assam tea) in water and then mixing in the additional spices, sugar, ginger and milk.
Where Does Chai Come From?
Chai as we know it in the Western world, has been grown in India for centuries. Early forms of masala chai are thought to not have used milk, but due to British influence, it was regularly added in the 1800s onwards. Today, masala chai continues to be a popular hot drink that is prepared from scratch and enjoyed at home or from street vendors called ‘Chaiwallahs’. Buffalo milk is used instead of cow’s milk and it’s thought that the average person consumes at least 2 cups of chai a day, making it much more consumed than coffee. Annually, the domestic consumption of tea in India is over 1.1 billion kilograms.
An integral part of the rhythm of life, especially in India’s dense cities, drinking a cup of chai masala is often how the day starts either from a street vendor or at home, with a second cup for some afternoon sustenance. Recipes are lovingly handed down through generations and fuel family get-togethers and catch-ups with friends.
A Brief History of Chai
The history of chai has a complex past involving international transactions as well as its ability to unite those of all backgrounds.
The Indian Tea Association set out a campaign in the 1900s to increase tea consumption which encouraged the introduction of a tea break into the working day, on the grounds that it would make workers more productive and happier.
Many vendors were selling chai, particularly on rail routes across the country, but took to substituting tea leaves with spices (known as ‘masala’) and adding milk and sugar to mask the bitter taste of the tea as well as reduce their costs. The Indian Tea Association disapproved of this as they thought they were losing profits, but adding masala came as a form of quiet resistance and is the deliciously warming drink we know today.
In 1974, India achieved its independence from British rule and Indian tea became a source of national pride. India began nationalising their tea plantations and the popularity of affordable CTC (machine-processed) tea increased, leading to tea becoming the chosen beverage of the nation.
Can You Make Your Own Chai?
Many delicious chai blends are available on the market, but it is possible to make your own chai masala if you have the time. High-quality ingredients are always recommended to get the most fragrant chai masala that will give you that warm, comforting feel at the very first sip. Black tea will be your base and you can then add your chosen spices. Simply simmer your tailored blend in water on a low heat.
How is Chai Different From a Chai Latte?
A cup of chai is essentially a cup of spiced tea, usually served with hot milk. On the other hand, a chai latte is a more westernised take on the traditional Indian beverage and consists of the chai masala base, but instead with steamed or frothed milk, much like a coffee-based latte, to create a milkier, creamier and slightly thicker consistency of hot drink than a traditional chai which is often stronger in taste and darker in colour.
What are the Benefits of Chai Lattes?
Chai spices within chai lattes have been shown to have numerous health benefits resulting from their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Warmth & Comfort
The dreamy combination of steamed milk and spices makes chai lattes a comforting hug in a mug, perfect for a chilly day or a cosy evening.
Chai lattes are a really versatile drink that allows you to create custom recipes, as well as being able to customise them to suit individual preferences. Whether it’s a more sweetened version for those with a sweet tooth or with plant-based milk for those who don’t drink dairy, chai lattes can easily be enjoyed by all taste buds. Plus, chai lattes are not just for the winter months. Much like an iced latte, an iced chai latte is a great drink for the summer months.
Organic, Easy-to-Make Chai Lattes with Sweet Revolution
At Sweet Resolution, we create organic, easy-to-make chai latte blends with added health benefits. Our chai blends are our take on a traditional chai masala, and are caffeine free as we don’t use black tea in our recipes. The blends are also totally vegan, nut and soya-free. The perfect balance of warming spices is complemented with just the right amount of sweetness, made with raw, unrefined coconut nectar.
Simply add your choice of milk to our Barista Blends and choose from our Organic Chai Latte with Reishi mushroom or Blue Chai Latte with Spirulina for a delicious chat latte ritual at home. Want an instant option? Try our Instant Chai Latte with Reishi, and just add water for a quick and convenient chai latte with coconut milk powder.