Elaichi Chai

CARDOMOM BLACK TEA

ORIGIN

Assam, a state in the Northeast part of India, lies along the river Brahmaputra-an antecedent river, older than the Himalayas. The Assam state is one of the richest biodiversity zones in the world. It consists of tropical rain forests, deciduous forests, riverine grasslands, bamboo orchards, wetland ecosystems and thousands and thousands of hectares of land covered end-to-end by stunning tea fields. Assam at sea level, experiences high precipitation and high daytime temperatures leading to greenhouse like conditions which lends the unique malty taste to Assam teas that is renowned worldwide.

Brewing Notes: Brew 1 heaped teaspoon of chai in 1/2 cup of boiling water for a few minutes, add 1/2 cup milk and brew on simmer for a few minutes till the color deepens a little more. Best enjoyed with sugar and company of a loved one

THE STORY

The history of 'Chai' dates back thousands and thousands of years to ancient kingdoms of South East Asia. It is believed that it originated in an ancient royal court more than 9000 years back when a king ordered his Ayurvedic doctors to concoct a healing nourishing drink for him. So the 'Chai' came into being, although at that time there was one ingredient that was not included - the black tea leaves. Chai featured different elements based on the needs. Cardamom, one of the star ingredients, was used to aid digestion, to detoxify the body, to boost immunity against cold flu and even for fighting depression. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, along with various other positive attributes made it a constant ingredient in Chai right from the beginning.

Tea was introduced in India by the British in 1830's. Tea plantations were set up in Assam and black tea made its way into the local chai recipes. This is when 'chai' made its first appearance as we know it today, with milk, tea leaves, sugar and spices.  At this time, tea , was too expensive for Indians to consume. It was mainly getting exported out of the country. In the 1900 Chai gained more mainstream popularity once CTC (Crush, Tear, Curl) manufacturing came into play. The bold tannic flavors of CTC created a perfect marriage with chai's sweet creamy and spicy notes. 'Chai' was here to stay. Chai dukans or chai shops sprung up around every corner, offering freshly brewed tea, at dhabas (traditional roadside eateries famous for simple and delicious food ) Punjabi truck drivers started demanding 'kadak' (strong) chai's as a nourishing, restorative and caffeinated drink that would help them in driving long hours on the road.

At homes, most families have their own unique chai recipes that have been handed down through generations. The dadi's and nani's aka grandmas concocted these nourishing brews to make sure that their family was protected against the common ailments.