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Chai Time

Cathy Horan-Anderson

Seven Seas Tea traditional organic Indian Chai. Image by Russell Ord Photography

Seven Seas Tea traditional organic Indian Chai. Image by Russell Ord Photography

When we think of India we think of Chai right? Well this was not always the case. Chai (the Indian word for "tea") is everywhere in India. But did you know that the sweet, spiced, milky beverage that we have grown to love, evolved from a nation of coffee drinkers!

Large scale tea production in India began in the 1820's under British rule. The Brits were trying to break the Chinese monopoly on the tea trade and offered Europeans large tracts of land in the northern region of Assam to grow tea for export. The majority of Indians however, drank coffee.

It was not until the 1920's after a successful advertising campaign by the Tea Board, that Indians reluctantly took to tea. At first, they were sceptical, and did not want to abandon their strongly flavored coffee. But they started adding spices to a sweet and milky tea and masala chai took off!  Now you find it in peoples homes, roadsides, train stations, everywhere. The nation runs on chai.

There are as many chai recipes as there are Indians in India. Spice combinations vary from region to region and each family has their own version, handed down through generations of grandmothers. There are also many different ways of preparing it but here is the Seven Seas Tea way:

For a quick brew: 
1tsp Seven Seas Tea Masala Chai per cup. Add freshly boiled water. Infuse 2-3mins to allow spice flavors to develop. Add milk if desired and sweeten to taste.  

Traditional stovetop method (makes 2 cups)
1sp Seven Seas Tea Masala Chai per cup. You can add an extra tsp to the pot for good luck!
1 cup water  (250ml)
1 cup milk (dairy , nut or soy) 
Honey or sugar if desired
Measure tea and water into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
Simmer for 5 mins allowing spice flavours to develop.
Add milk and simmer for a further 5mins . Watch closely and stir frequently to avoid catching on the bottom of the pot or boiling over. Allow to stand for 2-3mins. Sweeten to taste. A dash of honey is delicious.
Use a strainer to pour into cups. Enjoy.