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Chai

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In Hindi, chai’s meaning translates to “tea.” Linguists believe the word spread from China, where tea is known as “cha.”

In the modern United States, “chai tea” or “chai latte” is known as a hot, spiced tea beverage with milk and sugar. However, in other cultures, tea is just known as ‘chai.’

Simple enough? Good — now let’s take a closer look!

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Chai is steeped in a rich history. The name “chai” is actually the Hindi word for “tea”, which was derived from “cha”, the Chinese word for “tea”. In this case, the Hindi term chai means a mix of spices steeped into a tea-like beverage. Recipes for chai vary across continents, cultures, towns and families. But the traditional ingredients of a spiced tea blend usually include black tea mixed with strong spices, like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger and black peppercorns.

Chai is a way of life in India. Almost everywhere you go—in trains, on streets, in sari shops—you will see people gulping down the sweet, spicy, milky beverage.

The spiced tea mixture is typically brewed strong with milk and sweetened with sugar or honey. However, the milky sweet tea treat we order in coffee and tea shops today has very little in common with the origins of Indian chai.

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