Masala chai, a timeless elixir of flavors and traditions, boasts a rich and storied history that traces its origins back 500 years to South East Asia. While the precise birthplace remains a subject of debate, it’s widely believed to have been crafted in the court of King Harshavardhana, initially as an ayurvedic beverage. The King himself savored this brew during long court sessions, and historical records even mention its role as a welcome drink for guests.
In its early days, masala chai was a versatile concoction, brimming with an array of aromatic spices and prepared through diverse methods. Surprisingly, it was enjoyed both hot and cold, unlike the piping-hot beverage we savor today. This ancestral brew was also embraced as an ayurvedic remedy for mild ailments, free from both tea leaves and caffeine.
The British introduced black tea leaves to masala chai in 1835, igniting a new chapter in its evolution. It was further popularized throughout India by the British-owned Indian Tea Association. Notably, the addition of milk, a defining feature of today’s masala chai, didn’t become commonplace until the early 1900s, marking a relatively recent development in its remarkable journey.
Masala Chai Latte Recipe
- 1 scoop/ 1 infuser of Chhatrapati Chai tea
- 250ml water
- milk ( dairy or non-dairy )
- honey/jaggery/white sugar ( optional )
- Pour freshly boiled water over tea infuser or tea leaves and leave to brew for 5 minutes.
- Remove tea leaves and add sweetening if desired.
- Froth warm milk and pour into chai infusion.
- Garnish with your favourite spice and serve.
For an iced latte, after step 2, leave the infusion to cool down.
3. Froth cold milk and pour into the infusion.
TIP : Add ice cubes made from brewed tea to prevent the flavours of your drink from getting diluted.
References : Masala Chai : The Origins of India’s Favourite Drink