Cosy, comforting, warming – to us these three words sum up a cup of chai. These are the feelings that we have tried to evoke for your soothing November Mindful Moment in our chai candle and tea. Snuggle up on chilly nights and frosted mornings to the glow of a flickering candle. Toasted cinnamon, cardamom and clove enveloped in rich butterscotch create the ultimate cosy haven.
Our chai is a comforting, warming blend of black tea and spices – perfect for a cosy Autumn afternoon. The blend includes a robust black tea combined with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and peppercorns. We recommend adding a little milk and sugar to taste and enjoying with a blanket and a book!
Originally the tea plant was eaten as a vegetable, it only shifted from a food to a drink about 1,500 years ago when people realised that you could create a complex taste with heat and some liquid. In the 14th century, China still had the
monopoly on the world’s tea plants, which made it a powerful and influential economic force. Tea started to spread in around the early 1600’s when Dutch traders brought tea over to Europe. The wife of King Charles the 2nd, Queen Catherine of Braganza is credited with making tea popular with the English
aristocracy following their marriage in 1661. At that time, Britain was expanding its colonial influence and becoming the new dominant world power. As Britain grew, so too did interest in tea globally.
By 1700, tea was selling in Europe for ten times the price of coffee. As the tea trade became increasingly lucrative, competition between Western trading companies lead to the development of the Clipper ships, the world’s fastest sail boats then. They were all racing to bring their tea back to Europe first to maximise their profits. Tea was being bought from China for silver, but when this became too expensive, Opium was used instead. This led to a huge health problem in China and caused an opium war between Britain and China leading to the British taking control of the port of Hong Kong.
The British East India company wanted to be able to grow their own tea and commissioned a British botanist to steal tea from China and he brought tea plants and experienced tea workers into Darjeeling, India, helping spread tea further from there. This helped drive the rapid growth of tea into an everyday commodity. In the early twentieth century, the Indian Tea Association (owned by the British) was heavily promoting the consumption of tea in India, partly through encouraging tea breaks in factories, mills and mines in India. Before that it had been an expensive drink that was struggling for popularity. Tea sellers made the pricy tea leaves stretch further by reusing them and bulking them out with spices and milk making masala chai.
In the 1960’s tea production became mechanised and this brought the cost down significantly and produced a much stronger tea that is quicker to brew, seeing chai once again surge in popularity. The CTC method (crush-tear-curl) became the norm, where tea leaves are processed to make them into uniform-sized granules. You will often find that tea from a number of different plantations has been
mixed together in this method.
There is no single ‘chai recipe’ - they differ widely by region, family and personal taste. I had it described to me as there being as many recipes as there are families! Most chai recipes tend to contain fresh or dried cardamom, ginger and cinnamon. Punchy, strong black tea is boiled and then simmered on the stove with milk, sugar and spices to produce a creamy, warming and comforting
brew. The aroma this brings with it is heavenly – fragrant, sweet, spicy and inviting! Strain through a tea strainer to serve, breathe in, relax and enjoy!
Across the Indian subcontinent there are numerous regional chai varieties, for example in Western India cloves and peppercorns are not normally included and in Kashmir they use green tea rather than black and add almonds. In Kerala cardamom is favoured. In Mumbai they serve ‘cutting chai’, which is so strong it is sold as a half serving.
I was recommended a recipe for chai by a friend from Gujarat which was a masala chai with added lemongrass, mint and holy basil – the lemongrass gives the chai a refreshing, slightly lemony flavour. Black pepper can be added to help ease sore throats or congestion, ginger and star anise are also good for helping with a sore throat. Many of the spices used traditionally have ayurvedic benefits – historically, tea was viewed as medicinal.
Though there are regional and family battles of who makes the best chai, we believe with the quality of our chai and our recipe there will be no doubt of who makes it best. Our tea is packed with aromatic chai spices such as clove, cinnamon and star anise, there is no need to add more ingredients. Our recipe is beginner friendly and so easy to follow, you'll be sipping on coziness in a mug in no time!
Time: 10 minutes
- 240ml water
- 120ml milk of choice
- granulated sugar to taste (about 2 heaped teaspoons per serving, traditionally)
- 1 heaping tablespoon of the Mindful Moments Chai
- Additional Chai spices (cinnamon, cardamom and clove) (optional)
- Bring water, milk and chai spices to a simmer in a small saucepan on the stove.
- Reduce heat and add in chai leaves.
- Wait for tea to steep.
- Strain the warm spiced mixture into a mug; this will hold back the whole spices and tea leaves.
- Stir sugar into your chai and sweeten to taste.
Scale the measurements above to the number of servings you need.
We really hope you enjoy and benefit from your November Mindful Moment – take some time for yourself to relax and enjoy the warming chai and soothing candle scent. You can either make your chai like you would a regular cup of tea with boiling water and some milk, or you can take a little extra time and give yourself a chance to breathe while boiling the chai up with milk on the stove. Either way, enjoy! We are always looking for recommendations for chai – if you have a favourite homemade recipe, please let us know!