Although in the U.S. chai is thought of as a tea flavor; in India, chai is not a flavor of tea, it is the Hindi word for "tea." So when someone says "chai tea," they are literally saying "tea tea."
Originating over 5,000 years ago, legend holds that chai was invented for an Indian king who requested that a healing, spiced beverage be created to use in the traditional healing practice, Ayurveda. When first created, chai was made up of ginger and black pepper to stimulate digestion; cloves to relieve pain; cardamom as a mood lifter; cinnamon to support circulation and respiratory function; and star anise as a breath freshener.
When the British-owned Indian Tea Association was established in Indian during the early 20th century, black tea began to be blended into the traditional Indian chai, becoming the chai we know today. In America, chai's base is black tea and can consist of various spices including cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and many others. This combination makes chai a perfect tea for fall!
At Elden Street Tea Shop you can find two types of chai: Monk's Honey Chai and Masala Chai Organic.
The Monk's Honey Chai is a soothing tea with notes of chrysanthemums, honey, turmeric, and cardamom. Perfect for a sore throat!
Masala Chai Organic has a fuller flavor and is a historic favorite in India. Featuring a blend of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and peppercorns this tea preserves each of these unique flavors when adding milk and honey and maintains its strength when served as an iced tea.
Take some home with you the next time you come visit the tea shop!
Rachel Eisenfeld is the owner of Elden Street Tea Shop. She is a fan of Pu'er (poo-air) teas, refreshing and subtle white teas, and any tea mixed with bourbon. Rachel has been to many tea houses on the East Coast, Ireland, and San Franscico. She enjoys learning about the chemical process of making tea and international tea culture. During good times and bad, tea warms the soul.