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What is Chai?

Chai gained popularity in the United States decades ago, and today it’s available at many coffee shops and grocery stores. But what actually is Chai, and where did it originate from? We know Chai as a delicious and creamy alternative to coffee, but in India where Chai originated, it’s a way of life. 

What is Chai?

Chai is actually the Hindi word for tea, meaning when we say “Chai tea” we are actually saying “tea tea.” However, Chai in most of the western world refers to the blend of spices steeped into a tea-like beverage. The base of Chai is a black tea, most commonly Assam, but there are a few exceptions to this rule. The milk is traditionally whole milk, but you can also enjoy it with any milk or dairy alternative you typically drink. The spices to consider are cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, or peppercorns, but each person makes Chai with a slightly different combination. Sugar is also added to create the taste we know and love, either regular white sugar or unrefined cane sugar. Overall, Chai is brewed strong and is mixed with your favorite milk and a sweetener, such as honey or sugar. 

How can I enjoy Chai?

When you go to order Chai at a coffee shop, you may see two options, Chai tea and Chai tea latte. A Chai tea is the more classic take on this Indian tea, with just heated milk and sugar added to create a beverage. A Chai tea latte on the other hand is created with milk that is steamed and frothed to create a thicker substance. Either way, the Chai has to be brewed in a way that brings out the spices properly. For instance, many insist that you must bring the water to a boil before adding the spices, tea, and milk, in that order. Here in the western world, you can usually buy Chai tea that already contains the spices you need. This makes brewing and enjoying Chai that much easier. 

What is My Cup of Tea’s Take On Chai?

Memphis is nicknamed the Bluff City because it sits atop the bluffs overlooking the Mighty Mississippi River, and this is where our Bluff City Chai got its name. We honor India with a nod toward their classic Masala chai with spices like ginger, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and pepper to produce an intensely flavorful tea. You can prepare Chai however you like, but include milk and some organic honey for an authentic experience. Looking for a latte but don’t know where to start? We also offer a Chai Latte Kit that includes our almost famous Bluff City Chai, Horizon Organic lowfat milk, Chai spice marshmallows, and a recipe to put it all together! 

What are the benefits of Chai?

Chai is not just a delicious beverage, it’s also full of ingredients that are good for you. Because chai is made with black tea, which is extremely high in antioxidants, it can promote cellular health and potentially decrease your risk of degenerative diseases and certain cancers. Studies also show that black tea can have a positive effect on digestion and may help improve gastrointestinal symptoms. As always, check with your doctor before using tea to treat or prevent a medical condition. Tea is caffeinated, but unlike many other caffeinated beverages that are said to be bad for your teeth, black tea has been said to contain compounds that attack harmful bacteria and help prevent the buildup of plaque. Chai is also shown to potentially have many other benefits, such as fighting colds, soothing menstrual pain, and reducing muscle pain. Next time you’re searching for a warm caffeinated beverage, skip the coffee and go straight to a health-packed chai instead! 

Shop My Cup of Tea

Want to know more about chai? Visit our YouTube where Bretta breaks it down and tells us the best way to enjoy this sweet and spicy treat. While you’re at it, check out our other Youtube videos for recipes, discussions, and more!

My Cup of Tea is a non-profit in Memphis, TN that serves as an office, packing hub, retail store, and place of refuge for the women of Orange Mound. Our mission is to provide women in our community with the tools they need to thrive. We import the highest quality tea from tea estates and gardens in the Far East where they are weighed, re-formatted, and packaged for sale by the women who work here. Your purchase of our teas or other products opens a pathway for positive change and upward mobility for the courageous women who create them. If chai isn’t your cup of tea, you can shop all of our other teas on our website. We also offer holiday gift sets and an annual tea subscription

If you want to donate directly, you can do so on our website. We also offer a monthly subscription, called The Blend, for those who want to set up recurring donations to My Cup of Tea.