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October 2016

Chai it, you’ll like it!

 I invite you to tea, collect your favourite cup, steep your favourite brew and join me on a journey 

As the sun sets on the long hot lazy days of summer and autumn gazes vainly from the horizon it is time to sooth ourselves with the savoury smells and flavours of another harvest season. With fall in the air and cooler temperatures settling in we swaddle ourselves in fuzzy blankies and cozy sweaters with hands hugging a spicy soothing cup of tea. Many fancy the flavours of a comforting savoury cup of chai to sooth away the chill. The warming blend of exotic spices of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and ginger paired with warm milk and quality loose leaf tea, I mean really, does it get any better?

Chai is indisputably an autumn favourite. 

In parts of Europe and Asia the word “chai” or “cha” is the generic term for “tea”. Chai and Masala Chai are both commonly known as a spicy milky beverage. Masala is the word used for a “mixture“or “blend“of multiple spices used throughout India. Chai dates back approximately 9000 years ago with legends claiming its origins in an ancient royal court in India.  As it predates tea by, the spicy beverage was originally blended exclusively with a mix of numerous spices and numerous variations. It is believed that a king created the blend for Ayurvedic medicine.  Much like massage, herbs, yoga and other healing elements, chai tea was initially consumed to naturally heal, invigorate and cleanse the body.



Masala Chai kettles of a chai wallah popular throughout India 


While India was largely under British rule several tea plantations in the Assam region of northern India were cultivated and developed. This resulted in the production of the rich malty black tea that Assam is illustrious for. Like the fibres of an exquisite Indian tapestry, this robust black tea weaved its way into local masala chai recipes sold by ”chai wallahs” (tea vendors). The masala chai recipe that consumed globally today was actually refined with the addition of milk, sweetener and tea. This formula however was not widespread in India at the time as tea was a very precious and expensive commodity with most production of tea being exported to England and other countries in Europe.  The consumption of masala chai was popularized in India in the 1960`s when the production of tea became mechanized making it easier to manufacture and affordable to the people of India often taken with a savoury snack. This delectable brew is also served to house guests as a welcoming gesture.


As the worldwide popularity of masala chai grew, so too did the number of variations. Indian masala chai is usually prepared with robust black teas, whole milk and a local unrefined cane sugar called jaggery using freshly chopped and ground spices. While other parts of the world create a variation of the original using alternatives like honey and artificial sweeteners, partly skimmed milks, soymilk or non-dairy products, tea includes black, green, white and herbal tisanes such as Rooibos and Yerba Mate. Corporate chains and cafe`s frequently use manufactured syrup concentrates and similar establishments rarely prepare the brew from scratch. It is not only the ingredients that are compromised but the very name itself. Noting that masala chai means spiced tea, we refer to it often as Chai Tea, which literally speaking is TEA TEA. However with the increased demand for quality tea, tea houses, tearooms and tea bars are on the rise and serving high quality loose leaf masala chai recipes with fresh spices to meet consumer expectations.


Exotic spices used in blending Masala chai.


United with a strong black tea like Assam common spices include cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, star anise, peppercorns, nutmeg, cloves, fennel and coriander for a layering the flavours in the finished brew. It is said that each family in India has their own unique chai recipe in addition to the countless formulas served hot or cold around the world the diversity of this beverage is vast from house-to- house and shop-to-shop.

Enchanted Creations Tea has many blends of Chai on offer including Vanilla Chai black tea, Green Chai, Pumpkin Patch Chai, herbal blends to name a few . We also carry a large selection of quality loose leaf black tea and spices if you want to experiment and create your own blend. Also watch for an upcoming TASTE-LEARN-CREATE workshop on Chai to be posted on Facebook and Great for Gifting.

Like the changing of the guard, autumn is commencing its seasonal shift.  Chai is similar to the countless falling leaves each blend is slightly unique and they are scattered about. So I say celebrate mother nature`s spectacular autumn show as you sip your way through the season indulging in a spiced tea.


Fun Facts and Tea Tidbits

 A formal tea service consists of a teapot, sugar bowl, milk pitcher, coffee pot, hot water pot, slop bowl, teacups, saucers and a tray. Like Enchanted Creations on Facebook and post what you think is the purpose of the SLOP BOWL. Try not to Google your answer and just have fun with it.