It’s hard to imagine all the types, variants and styles of tea drinking. They all originated through our learning of how to prepare a single plant, Camellia Sinensis. Tea can be white, yellow, green, oolong, black, or dark (aka post-fermented). It is brewed in myriads of variations with nearly endless flavourings. This drink is universally important to human culture. Tea made it number two in nomination “the most consumed drink in the world”, after water.
A short history of tea
The drink was popularized as a recreational beverage during the Chinese Tang dynasty. It ruled from the beginning of the 7th to the beginning of the 10th century. Tea drinking culture gradually spread to other Asian countries.
In Europe, it appeared during the 16th century. This was thanks to the Portuguese priests and merchants who had trade relationships with the Asian region. With time tea became a fashion in Britain. The country successively started planting Camellia sinensis on a large scale.
Different words for tea
The identification of the drink from that plant has different words in English: cha, tea and chai. Basically, the etymology of these words simply reflects the history of the appearance of tea in Europe.
The earliest was ‘cha’ that came in the 16th with the Portuguese. That is a Cantonese pronunciation. Then in the 17th century via the Dutch came ‘tea’. They picked up the Malay word ‘teh’. Then appeared the third form ‘chai’, originated in China. But eventually, it entered English via Hindu in the 20th century.
Prepare your own spiced tea
Nowadays, the word ‘chai’ is usually used in the meaning of spiced tea. And that is exactly what we are going to tell you about.
Ever heard of masala tea? Well, now you know why everybody calls it masala chai. But you also have to know how beautifully sweet and spicy this beverage tastes. Eight ingredients in one pot and the creamy, warming, spiced tea is ready.
Get 1 cinnamon stick, 6-8 cardamom pods, 3-4 cloves and 1 tsp of whole black peppercorns. Crush everything in a mortar or with a heavy pan. Don’t pulverize only slightly crush the spices.
Next, throw the crushed spices into a saucepan. Add 1 tbsp of grated ginger, 600 ml / 2 ½ cups of water. Bring everything to a boil and keep it simmering for 15 minutes.
Then add 3 tbsp of loosely packed tea leaves or 3-4 black tea bags. Additionally, add 500 ml / 2 cups of milk. (Or use milk alternatives if you please). Adjust the heat to low and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Then turn the heat off, allow to steep for another 5 minutes.
Finally, add the sweetener of your choice: sugar, stevia, syrup, you name it. Strain before serving and enjoy.