Winter is in full gear now and it’s no doubt the best time to be warming up with your favorite hot teas and infusions. Chai is probably one of the most popular and beloved teas from the West to the East, and although today there are so many variations of the traditional Indian spiced tea blend; one has to wonder: which chai recipe is the best? If you want to find out more you can read below, but first let’s get straight to the delicious Chocolate Chai Recipe made from scratch!
Spiced chai & chocolate recipe:
Ingredients (serves 4):
1 quart soy/almond/regular milk
6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped coarsely
4 tablespoons Venus Sophia Chai
Preparation: Combine in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk until chocolate melts and steaming hot, approx 5 min. Strain and serve in a beautiful teacups and share with your friends. Teapot optional.
This tea latte with chocolate is the perfect heart warming cup to enjoy during the holidays and in the Winter/Fall months.
History of Chai
So, what makes the best chai? To answer that question, we’d have to go straight to India – the masters of Chai. In India, the word “chai” simply means “tea” (interestingly enough the word “shai” also means tea in Arabic, and “cha” is tea in Chinese). Masala or “spice mix” Chai is prepared from scratch and sipped on daily in India, everywhere and anywhere, from home to little tea stands in the streets.
In the 1830’s the British East India Company was concerned over the low sales of tea as opposed to coffee in India, and in the early 20th century a campaign was launched in an attempt to lure the population into consuming larger amounts of tea. It worked – with the helping hand of someone who mixed a combination of tea and sweet milk with spices. And the rest as they say is history! Today, chai is renowned for its health benefits as much as its loved for its beautiful taste and signature subtle burn at the back of the throat.
Making the Best Chai
You don’t need the full tea leaf or highest quality tea leaf to make a great chai. In fact, the best tea to be used for the mix is ‘mamri’ or grain tea, preferably of a type such as Assam. When we created the Venus Sophia Chai we used a blend of strong Indian Assam PF and Kenyan black tea base. You want the tea to stand out in taste equally to the flavorful spices that will be added.
For the spices however, each house wife making tea from scratch for her family, and each family recipe will tell you differently. With that said, the preferable and foundational spices to include would be: cardamom, black pepper, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and (ground or fresh) ginger. But there are many more beneficial spices that can be added, and there are no strict rules when coming up with your creation.
When we created our “jewel of a chai” recipe, we combined all these spices ground and mixed with our mamri tea blend of choice. Since we enjoy re-creating traditions with a twist, we thought a balance of spicy and floral would be wonderful for the dreamy chai drinkers out there. Our flowers of choice were jasmine, rose and a hint of lavender. You can just pour boiling filtered water over this beautiful tea, and add warm milk with a sweetener if you please. Or you can toss it in a pot with a fatty milk (skim milk does not extract the flavours of spices as well as regular milk does) over medium-high heat until steaming hot, and then strain. Sweeten with honey, agave, or sugar of your choice.
You could also make your own chai from scratch using the guidelines in this article. When it comes to specific measurements, we suggest you go by your intuition and depending how spicy, peppery, or sweet you would like you chai to be. Don’t take the fun out of cooking! Try different combinations and adjust accordingly. Be adventurous and try to mix in other spices like anise or fennel — it all depends on your taste! We recommend using 1 teaspoon of tea per cup when brewing Venus Sophia teas.
Ayurveda and the Health Benefits of Chai
According to the ancient Indian study of medicine and health Ayurveda, the spices in chai are calming, vitalizing, de-stressing, and helps in clearing the mind. Cinnamon improves circulation and reduces fatigue. Cardamom benefits the lungs, heart and kidneys. Cloves have antiseptic properties and black pepper is wonderful for metabolism. Nutmeg promotes the digestion of heavy foods, and is a mood elevator. Ginger is well known for its many healing qualities and improves digestion, circulation, and wards of colds! The list of benefits to the spices in chai are endless. In addition, black tea is rich in antioxidants, fluoride for healthy bones and teeth, and studies show that it does wonders for cardiovascular health.