The History of Chai Tea

Chai tea is an ancient Masala Chai or “spiced tea”. With a 5,000-year history in India, with tales of revered tea of royalty and herbal medicine. It was created as a cleansing beverage.

Original Chai Tea

Originally it was only a herbal tea, made with cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, ginger and black pepper. The heat from black pepper and ginger stimulated digestion, cinnamon supported circulation, cloves were antiseptic and relieved pain. Cardamom was thought to be a uplifting.

Each city or region had its own blend of spices it preferred. And there was no milk or sugar used in those days.

Then in the !900’s British Indian Tea Association started promoting black tea and added it to the traditional Chai and in 1960 black tea was more affordable to the general Indian population.

Variations in Chai Tea Today

CTC (crush, tear, curl) black tea has a bold tannic flavor and was great added to Masala chai’s creamy spicy taste. They started adding milk and sweetener, jaggery, a sugar in India.

It became the welcome tea for guests to the Indian home.

It was used in public at street vendor stalls called “Chai Wallah”, tea persons, a sort of barista.

In India they drink about four small cups of Chai a day and 4pm is their tea and snack time.

Chai tea is now popular worldwide and has a wide number of variations.

  • If you use larger amounts of ginger and black pepper its will be spicy hot, but it sure will get rid of congestion or mucus build-up.
  • Vanilla with cinnamon and nutmeg is sweeter.
  • Saffron and cocoa make your tea earthy flavored.
  • Or using fennel and cumin it becomes savory.
  • Use warm cow’s milk, coconut milk or a nut milk to add to your tea.
  • Chai is now blended with Green and Rooibos tea, to add more antioxidants, flavors and different caffeine levels. A few shops use loose tea leaves versus bags which adds a fresher flavor.
  • Masala chai is best made with fresh herbs; but today the popular coffeehouse uses a syrupy pre -mixed blend of milk and powdered spices.

 Steep your chai tea for 5 minutes if mixed with a green of black tea.

If it is herbs only steep for 15 minutes to get the herbs full health benefits.




Cindy Burrows, B.S., M.T., Herbalist and is a Nutrition and Wellness Consultant helping individuals with health programs to improve life and happiness. She is a writer, speaker and owner of several businesses.





Written by Cynthia Burrows