By Divya Patwari
Kadak Masala chai is a flavored tea beverage made by brewing black tea with a mixture of aromatic Indian spices and herbs. Originating in South Asia, the beverage has gained worldwide popularity, becoming a feature in many coffee and tea houses. Although traditionally prepared by decoction, retail versions include tea bags for infusion, instant powdered mixtures, and concentrates. In many places, there is a misconception that “chai” in itself is made with cardamom, ginger, and the other common spices like cinnamon and cloves. (Editor’s note: Recipes vary and are passed down through families as heritage, but the basic ingredients of chai are a black tea, spices, sweeteners and a mix of water and milk.)
In the 1830s, the British East India Company became concerned about the Chinese monopoly on tea, which constituted most of its trade and supported the enormous consumption of tea in Great Britain: approximately one pound (by weight) per person per year. British colonists had recently noticed the existence of the Assamese tea plants, and began to cultivate tea plantations locally. In 1870, more than 90 percent of the tea consumed in Great Britain was still of Chinese origin, but by 1900 this had dropped to 10 percent, largely replaced by tea grown in British India (50 percent) and British Ceylon (33 percent).
However, consumption of black tea within India remained low until an aggressive promotional campaign by the (British-owned) Indian Tea Association in the early 20th century, which encouraged factories, mines, and textile mills to provide tea breaks for their workers. It also supported many independent chai wallahs throughout the growing railway system.
A kadak masala chai recipe all the way from India:
STEP 1: Boil 1 cup water with chopped ginger (1/4 of a finger of ginger) and cloves (1 or 2).
STEP 2: Add Assam tea (3 teaspoons). Let the water boil and then add full fat milk 3/4 of a cup. ( The full fat adds a gratifying taste to the tea!)
STEP 3: Boil the mixture until it turns caramel in color. You can use a spoon to mix around the tea in the saucepan.
STEP 4: Keep the gas on a moderate level and let it boil and let the tea turn rich in all flavors.
STEP 5: Add cardamom to the tea (2 pods cracked slightly). Let it boil for 1 more minute.
STEP 6: Turn the gas off. Let the tea settle and strain it after 2 minutes. Add sugar for taste.
A guaranteed cup of delicious happiness awaits you!
About the Writer
Divya Patwari is an avid tea drinker who holds a Bachelors degree in Political Science and a Masters in Fashion Management. She is always ‘in pursuit of happiness’ and wishes to travel all across Europe. Patwari’s studied John Locke and Rousseau, loves Julius Caesar and has a knack for reading minds. She’s always in love and welcomes you to join her in finding out the ‘Joie De Vivre’ together.
Photo by Anthony Russo