Have you ever wondered where chai latte is from, and how it came to be? Delve into the colourful and vibrant history of the chai latte with us…!
Chai tea originates from India and the ancient kingdom of Siam
‘Chai’ actually means ‘tea’ in Hindi – derived from the Persian word ‘Chay’ and Chinese ‘Cha’. Masala Chai has been around longer than conventional coffee and even herbal teas as we know them today. It was first known to be consumed in the ancient kingdom of Siam and throughout India, after the reigning king first introduced the spices to one another as a medicinal beverage. The development of chai is deeply rooted in the healing art of Ayurveda, a holistic lifestyle encompassing food, traditional medicines and lifestyle choices designed to ensure a wholesome and healthful existence. Practitioners would blend a diverse array of spices in a range of recipes served hot and cold – all said to possess different health benefits. Black tea didn’t actually feature in the chai mix as it does today until the early 1900s, when tea plantations in Assam grew considerably.
What is a chai wallah?
This may sound crazy, but just before I started Aura Chai a series of signs kept coming to me, showing me that this was my path – this was what I needed to do next. One of those came during a lunch date with my grandad, who was born in India to a British father and Middle Eastern mother, and returned there in his twenties during his time in the army. Unprompted, he told me about a thick, sweet tea he used to drink regularly served by ‘chai wallahs’ – and instantly I knew what he was talking about. He told me the tea was made with condensed milk and served by the side of the road in huge metal pans over a fire. He liked it, but it was so different to the tea he’d been used to back in England! Chai wallahs are like the stallholders that cry out to sell their wares in souks and markets. They have a distinctive and familiar chant that drifts down the streets and across bustling roadways – ‘garam chai garam chai!’ – a melodic, repetitive mantra that follows them faithfully as they weave their way through the crowds.
Where is chai tea popular now?
Chai has found its way into Western culture within the past 40 years – gaining popularity in Australia and America in particular. Here in the UK chai lattes are relatively new on the menu – but there’s a growing population of chai connoisseurs and tea lovers driving demand for authentic, quality chai blends. At Aura Chai we believe in a traditional, spicy chai mix featuring high quality, natural ingredients lovingly mixed by hand here in Manchester. Discover our product range for home use and wholesale here. Check out our stockists list to find out where to try Aura Chai.