Wikipedia Entry

Indian Chai

Chai

A Cup of Chai.

(source: Christine Schudde – Fromscratchclub)

{edible gift} homemade chai concentrate

Overview

Chai, which translates to “tea,” “is a North Indian beverage made from leaves, twigs or buds of a tea bush” and is known as the “national beverage” of India.1 Tea was introduced to India by the British, and was found in Assam and Darjeeling. Typically, the chai is called black tea, though it is also known as “red tea” due to its color when brewed.3 Chai is consumed daily by nearly every Indian household, and plays a large role in Indian culture. The population of India consumes almost 80% of its annual tea production.2

 

Table of Contents:

  • Overview
  • History of Chai:
    • China and Tea in India
    • Indian Tea Market Expansion Board Brings Popularity
  • Types of Indian Tea:
    • Assam Tea
    • Darjeeling Tea
    • Nilgiri Tea
  • Tea in Indian Culture
    • Chai in the Daily Life
    • What to Serve with Chai
    • Chai Wallahs
  • How To Make Indian Tea:
    • Ingredients
    • Preparation
  • Nutritional Values/Health Benefits of Chai
  • Works Cited

 

History of Chai:

China and Tea in India

Originally, the East India Company, which ruled over India in 1757, used opium grown in India to buy tea from China. However, as China started to become addicted to Opium and monopolized tea sales and trade, the British decided to grow their own tea.  By 1774, tea seeds and plants were secretly brought into India in an effort to grow them. Success was not reached, however, until 1823. Camellia assamica, a tea plant that stemmed from the Chinese tea, was found growing in Assam, a state in north-east India. When it was confirmed that the plant was in fact legitimate tea, a “tea rush”20 ensued. Within the span of forty years, forests were cleared out to make space for the tea plantations. The tea industry in India rose so quickly, that It even passed China in trade with the United Kingdom.4

  

Indian Tea Market Expansion Board Brings Popularity

As a result of the British’s construction of the tea industry in India, Indians soon began drinking tea as well. In fact, they adopted the British way of drinking it: by adding milk.29 According to Professor Lutgendorf, a professor of Hindi and modern Indian studies at University of Chicago with a PH.D in South Asian Languages and Civilizations, tea was not always popular throughout India’s history. Rather, it became most popular later into the 20th century by the British in an effort to bring the tea business inside of India, not just the outside. During this time, the people of India viewed tea as a malicious product of the imperialists. Before a surplus of tea hit India in 1930, only some of the residents of India had a taste of tea. After the surplus, however, the Indian Tea Market Expansion Board, “ITMEB,” made extensive marketing efforts to increase the popularity of tea within India. Memorable advertisements at various locations and events, free tea stands, appeal to certain audiences, and the set up of canteens at work places were all efforts made by ITMEB to increase Indian tea popularity. As a result, millions of Indians were eventually introduced to tea.5

 

 

Types of Indian Tea: 

Black tea is the main tea used in Indian chai. Though it is called black tea, the tea is a red color when brewed: “In much of Asia, black tea is known as ‘red tea,’ based on the color of the brewed infusion.”6 The following are the three main black teas from India:

 

Chai map

Location of Assam and Darjeeling.

(source: Dominion Tea)

http://blog.dominiontea.com/2014/05/15/the-tea-of-assam-india/

 

Assam Tea

Assam tea was the first tea to be discovered by the British in India. It comes from a plant in the northern mountains, Camellia assamica, which is related to the Chinese version, Camellia sinensis.23 Assam tea is “quite brisk and bold”, requiring people to “add a dash of milk or sugar to soften the astringency.”21 Due to the strength of Assam tea, it is most popular in breakfast teas.7

 

Darjeeling Tea

Darjeeling tea was found later by the East India Company, and is also related to Chinese tea.25 Like the Assam tea, it was discovered in the northern mountains of India. It is not as strong as Assam tea and is described as “delicate and complex” or the “Champagne of Teas.”22 Due to the delicacy in taste, it is not mixed with milk as often as the Assam tea.8

 

Nilgiri Tea

Nilgiri is a black tea that was discovered in southern India around the time Darjeeling was introduced to the British.26 It is described as “the mellow, high mountain tea of southern India” and “delightful.”27 Much like the Darjeeling tea, Nilgiri tea is not usually served with milk.9

 

 

Tea in Indian Culture:

Chai in the Daily Life

The introduction of tea to most of India led to its great integration into Indian society. Tea is served at any occasion and many times throughout the day. Chai is consumed by all, no matter how rich or poor.24 In the Indian household, chai is offered to everyone, even those who are not friends or family: “…it is not uncommon for the plumber or carpenter who visits the average household to do repair jobs to be offered a cup of sweet milky ‘chai’…”10

 

What to Serve with Chai

Often times, chai is served with other snack or foods. Though there are similar ideas, the types of snacks and foods served with chai vary by location within India: “Just as cakes and sandwiches are traditional accompaniments to English tea, there are Indian accompaniments.”17 For example, the northern people of Punjab often enjoy “heavy foods, [and] a traditional breakfast starts with fried stuffed paranthas, washed down with ‘readymade’ chai.”28 Chai can be served with anything sweet or savory, such as pakodas and samosas, and jalebis, rasgullas, and gulab jamuns respectively.11

 

Chai Wallahs

As a result of chai playing a large role in an Indian person’s daily life, people who have careers selling tea on the streets have arised. These vendors are known as “chai wallahs.” Chai wallah translates to “person who makes or sells tea.”18 Because chai is such a large part of the Indian life, chai wallahs can be found in nearly every location: “Since the British helped popularize tea in India, chai wallahs have been setting up stands throughout the country and caffeinating the population, one small cup at a time.”12

 

 

How to Make Indian Tea: 

There is no single chai recipe that all Indian people follow. Recipes vary by location, families, and personal taste. The usual cup of chai tea will have the following basic ingredients: milk, black tea, water, and sometimes spices. Variation comes from the amount of each ingredient that is added and the different spices that are used. The following is a basic chai recipe:

 

Ingredients

  • 8 oz water
  • 4 oz whole milk
  • granulated sugar, to taste
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of black tea”13
  • spices (optional)

 

“Preparation

Bring water and milk to a simmer with desired spices in a medium saucepan.  Reduce heat to lowest setting and add tea. Steep until tea takes on a deep, pinky-tan colour, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Strain into a cup and stir in sugar to taste.”14 Different spices can be added, such as cardamom, ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and much more.

Spices.png

Spices That Can be Added to Chai

(source: Martha – A Family Feast)

http://www.afamilyfeast.com/chai-spice-mix/

 

 

Nutritional Values/Health Benefits of Chai

Though chai is caffeinated, it has much more health benefits than coffee. When a person drinks chai, he or she feels less tired and is much more focused. Though coffee has the same effects, “drinking tea in large quantities does not cause hyperactivity, insomnia, or stomach irritation.”19 Chai also contains many antioxidants, such as catechins and flavonoids, which are important in preventing cancer, damages to the arteries, killing viruses and bacteria, and helping the intestines. In addition to the health benefits, black tea does not have any calories.15

 

 

Works Cited

  1. Pushpangadan, P., Vipin Mohan Dan, TP Ijinu, and V. George. “Food, Nutrition, and Beverage.” Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge11 (2012): 26-34. NISCAIR Online Periodicals Repository. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <http://nopr.niscair.res.in/handle/123456789/13417>
  2. Sarin, Rekha, and Rajan Kapoor. Chai: the experience of Indian tea. New Delhi: Niyogi , 2014. Print.
  3. Long, Kim, and Brian Keating. “How to Make Tea.” Google Books. Ivy Press, 2015. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=BBihCgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT6&dq=indian+chai+tea+origin&ots=kuTK5spMps&sig=4aa8R9L5mBcYfiMvjONOpdwryrc#v=onepage&q=indian%20chai%20tea%20origin&f=false>
  4. Lutgendorf, Philip. “Making tea in India.” Thesis Eleven113.1 (2012): 11-31. Sage Journals. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0725513612456896>
  5. Lutgendorf, Philip. “Making tea in India.” Thesis Eleven113.1 (2012): 11-31. Sage Journals. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0725513612456896>
  6. Long, Kim, and Brian Keating. “How to Make Tea.” Google Books. Ivy Press, 2015. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=BBihCgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT6&dq=indian+chai+tea+origin&ots=kuTK5spMps&sig=4aa8R9L5mBcYfiMvjONOpdwryrc#v=onepage&q=indian%20chai%20tea%20origin&f=false>
  7. Long, Kim, and Brian Keating. “How to Make Tea.” Google Books. Ivy Press, 2015. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=BBihCgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT6&dq=indian+chai+tea+origin&ots=kuTK5spMps&sig=4aa8R9L5mBcYfiMvjONOpdwryrc#v=onepage&q=indian%20chai%20tea%20origin&f=false>
  8. Long, Kim, and Brian Keating. “How to Make Tea.” Google Books. Ivy Press, 2015. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=BBihCgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT6&dq=indian+chai+tea+origin&ots=kuTK5spMps&sig=4aa8R9L5mBcYfiMvjONOpdwryrc#v=onepage&q=indian%20chai%20tea%20origin&f=false>
  9. Long, Kim, and Brian Keating. “How to Make Tea.” Google Books. Ivy Press, 2015. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=BBihCgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT6&dq=indian+chai+tea+origin&ots=kuTK5spMps&sig=4aa8R9L5mBcYfiMvjONOpdwryrc#v=onepage&q=indian%20chai%20tea%20origin&f=false>
  10. Sarin, Rekha, and Rajan Kapoor. Chai: the experience of Indian tea. New Delhi: Niyogi , 2014. Print.
  11. Sarin, Rekha, and Rajan Kapoor. Chai: the experience of Indian tea. New Delhi: Niyogi , 2014. Print.
  12. Gellatly, Resham, and Zach Marks. “About.” Chai Wallahs of India. CHAI WALLAHS OF INDIA, 11 Feb. 2014. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <http://chaiwallahsofindia.com/about/>
  13. Pallian, Jennifer. “Authentic Homemade Indian Chai.” Foodess.com. Foodess Creative Inc., 9 Nov. 2016. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <http://foodess.com/recipes/authentic-indian-chai-tea-recipe/>
  14. Pallian, Jennifer. “Authentic Homemade Indian Chai.” Foodess.com. Foodess Creative Inc., 9 Nov. 2016. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <http://foodess.com/recipes/authentic-indian-chai-tea-recipe/>
  15. Sarin, Rekha, and Rajan Kapoor. Chai: the experience of Indian tea. New Delhi: Niyogi , 2014. Print.
  16. Pushpangadan, P., Vipin Mohan Dan, TP Ijinu, and V. George. “Food, Nutrition, and Beverage.” Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge 11 (2012): 26-34. NISCAIR Online Periodicals Repository. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <http://nopr.niscair.res.in/handle/123456789/13417>
  17. Sarin, Rekha, and Rajan Kapoor. Chai: the experience of Indian tea. New Delhi: Niyogi , 2014. Print.
  18. Gellatly, Resham, and Zach Marks. “About.” Chai Wallahs of India. CHAI WALLAHS OF INDIA, 11 Feb. 2014. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <http://chaiwallahsofindia.com/about/>
  19. Sarin, Rekha, and Rajan Kapoor. Chai: the experience of Indian tea. New Delhi: Niyogi , 2014. Print.
  20. Lutgendorf, Philip. “Making tea in India.” Thesis Eleven113.1 (2012): 11-31. Sage Journals. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0725513612456896>
  21. Long, Kim, and Brian Keating. “How to Make Tea.” Google Books. Ivy Press, 2015. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=BBihCgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT6&dq=indian+chai+tea+origin&ots=kuTK5spMps&sig=4aa8R9L5mBcYfiMvjONOpdwryrc#v=onepage&q=indian%20chai%20tea%20origin&f=false>

22 Long, Kim, and Brian Keating. “How to Make Tea.” Google Books. Ivy Press, 2015. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=BBihCgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT6&dq=indian+chai+tea+origin&ots=kuTK5spMps&sig=4aa8R9L5mBcYfiMvjONOpdwryrc#v=onepage&q=indian%20chai%20tea%20origin&f=false>

  1. Lutgendorf, Philip. “Making tea in India.” Thesis Eleven113.1 (2012): 11-31. Sage Journals. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0725513612456896>
  2. Sarin, Rekha, and Rajan Kapoor. Chai: the experience of Indian tea. New Delhi: Niyogi , 2014. Print.
  3. India Brand Equity Foundation. “Origin of Tea.” BRAND INDIA PLANTATIONS. India Brand Equity Foundation, n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2017. <http://www.teacoffeespiceofindia.com/tea/tea-origin>.
  4. India Brand Equity Foundation. “Origin of Tea.” BRAND INDIA PLANTATIONS. India Brand Equity Foundation, n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2017. <http://www.teacoffeespiceofindia.com/tea/tea-origin>.
  5. Long, Kim, and Brian Keating. “How to Make Tea.” Google Books. Ivy Press, 2015. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=BBihCgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT6&dq=indian+chai+tea+origin&ots=kuTK5spMps&sig=4aa8R9L5mBcYfiMvjONOpdwryrc#v=onepage&q=indian%20chai%20tea%20origin&f=false>
  6. Sarin, Rekha, and Rajan Kapoor. Chai: the experience of Indian tea. New Delhi: Niyogi , 2014. Print.
  7. Long, Kim, and Brian Keating. “How to Make Tea.” Google Books. Ivy Press, 2015. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=BBihCgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT6&dq=indian+chai+tea+origin&ots=kuTK5spMps&sig=4aa8R9L5mBcYfiMvjONOpdwryrc#v=onepage&q=indian%20chai%20tea%20origin&f=false>

 

 

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