If your day begins with coffee, in India the mornings exude chai, the traditional Indian tea with milk. Although the Indian consumption of herbal infusions is a millenary tradition, the habit of mixing tea with milk and sugar was first brought by the British. After a while, Indians adapted the tea to their taste with the addition of spices and thus Masala Chai was born.
What is Masala Chai?
The masala chai is much more than a drink. It is the welcome symbol in every house and a break for the daily rush. Masala means spice mixture. There is no original recipe for the masala chai, but rather a general understanding of the main ingredients: black tea, spices, milk, and sugar. The most common spices are ginger, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper, and cinnamon. It is better to use whole milk because the fat helps to loosen the aromatic compounds of the spices. Another essential element is sugar, the masala chai needs to be sweetened. We like it with jaggery, a kind of raw sugar consumed in India.
Consumption of Masala Chai in India
The masala chai varies from region to region. In Mumbai the typical one is the cutting chai, in Kashmiri is a pink chai made with saffron, while in Kolkata it is common to serve masala chai in disposable clay cups, like the one from the photo below.
It is said that the Indian’s passion for tea didn’t happen at first sight. With the motivation to overthrow the Chinese monopoly of tea, the English began to cultivate tea in India on a commercial scale and encouraged factories to stipulate tea-drinking Intervals. There was also support for street tea vendors, known as Chai Wallahs, an icon of the gastronomic culture of India. Today, the Chai Wallahs are spread all over the cities, always busy, they make the best chai you can find!
India and tea
India is today the second largest tea producer in the world. The domestic consumption is approximately 80% of local production, the equivalent of 1 million tonnes per year besides being the country where black tea is most consumed in the world.
Do you want to know more about the history of tea in India, where it is grown and its characteristics? Read more in the link below!