Chai Iced Tea, Chai Latte, Chai, Chai. The name seems to be in every coffee or tea shop these days. The word Chai is a Hindi word that funnily enough means tea. The cup of tea with spices that we have come to love and know, is the way many millions of Indians enjoy their cup of tea. Each cup of chai is different and each chai wallah, (tea boy), or company that produces a chai has his/their own secret recipe and take on this famous blend.
Before Ceylon was known for her tea, early traders came looking for her spices. In fact Sri Lanka produces over 90% of the world’s true Cinnamon – otherwise known as Ceylon Cinnamon. The common variety, known as Cassia Cinnamon, is found growing in China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. There has been much written debate in recent years as to the difference between these two products. The main difference boils down to agreement that Ceylon cinnamon carries the greater health benefits due to the extremely low levels of coumarin.
But I digress.
To create PMD’s Chai Cinnamon tea we start with a quality black tea. Our tea is sourced from the Dimbula region and we source a Pekoe grade. The small leaf grade provides excellent body and strength in the cup and gives balance to the spices that will be added. Teas from the Dimbula region on the western side of the Island are known for their robustness and this is another reason why we source from here.
Sri Lanka’s best spice gardens are found in the Kandy region. This was the first region that had tea planted in the 1870’s by James Taylor. The elevation of the spice gardens sits between 2000-4000ft. The temperate climate is excellent for growing spices, which usually make their way into the many fiery curries that one can enjoy in the sub continent.
From the Kandy region we source ginger, pepper cloves and cardamom. However no Chai from Ceylon would be complete without a double shot of cinnamon that is sourced from the low country. Ceylon cinnamon adds a sweetness to the final taste. To cap off the experience some warm milk and little bit of sugar must be added after brewing. While I never add sugar to any other tea, I find that a little bit of sugar helps bring out the aroma and taste of the spices.
Do you have a Chai drinking experience? Comment below – I would be interested to know.
Dananjaya Silva writes on behalf of PMD Teas, three generations of tea production improving the lives of the locals in Sri Lanka.
Photo “Chai Guy” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License to the photographer Shabbir Siraj and is being posted unaltered (source)
Photo “Cinnamon – Spice Related” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License to the photographer “trophygeek” and is being posted unaltered (source)
I love chai, especially at this time of year. My favorite chai experience happened just recently when our daughter and her friend were guests for Thanksgiving. Both girls are very health conscious – one teaches yoga and the other is an herbalist. Things were a bit tense, as they often are when entertaining guests one doesn’t really know, and as the hostess, I was anxious to bring easiness to our gathering. I brewed a batch of Calming Chai from Lochan Tea, serving it neat. Soon, the soothing sound of sipping sibilance filled the tense silence. Commentary about the beautiful colors, textures, and odors from the tea gave way to genuine sharing and easy laughter.
Rafe I think your story of Chai sums up the beauty of tea. On average the efforts of 85 people go into making a cup of tea, its wonderful to hear that their efforts goes towards helping create new friendships :)
One of our most popular icy blendeds in our store days was Chocolate Chai. It really was delicious. Another was iced Coconut Chai latte. I am a Chai fanatic and it took about 2 years to get the right balance we wanted in our chai for the store. One thing though…people are either chai people or not..no in-betweens on the subject!
I agree with you on that. I am not a chai person myself but know many who absolutely love it.
Totally agree you either Love the taste or hate it. But I do find that during the winter months alot of non chai people are easily converted ;)
Masala chai is one of my favorites of teas with added flavor (I normally drink tea without added flavour). And I Think it´s specially good this time of year. I actually normally serve it during x-mas dinner. But I also lite it during the summer.
It´s extra good since many people here in sweden loves “chai” so many have it at home.