Don’t be surprised if you detect the rich, robust aroma of imperial spices wafting in the air on September 21st—after all, this date has been officially declared National Chai Day.
Steeped in rich history and ancient traditions, chai tea originated in India thousands of years ago and is now beloved by tea drinkers around the globe. This perfectly-spiced beverage strikes a beautiful balance between earthy, fiery, sweet and smooth.
Add a splash of warm milk and a spoonful of sugar or honey to create a satisfying chai latte—perfect for sipping on a chilly autumn or winter day. No matter how you prefer to prepare your chai, be sure to steep a cup in honor of National Chai Day on September 21st.
What is Chai Tea?
“Chai” is simply the Hindi word for tea. When most tea drinkers from Western cultures use the word “chai,” they are often referring to a specific variety of tea known as “masala chai.” This phrase translates to “spiced tea” in Hindi.
Legend has it that masala chai’s history stretches back nearly 5,000 years, when it was developed as a revitalizing Ayurvedic beverage for an ancient king. This earliest version of masala chai contained only a potent mixture of spices, but no tea leaves.
It wasn’t until the British colonial era that leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant (along with milk and sugar) were added to masala chai, creating the beverage that is known and loved around the globe today.
The exact ingredients used to prepare chai can vary by region. They typically include Assam or Darjeeling black tea leaves and a blend of strong spices, such as cloves, cardamom, peppercorn, ginger and cinnamon. The beverage is commonly served hot with milk and sugar, creating a sweet and creamy flavor that balances out the bold spices.
Chai is deeply ingrained in Indian culture, and plays an important role in local daily life. Vendors known as “chai wallahs” sell hot, freshly steeped chai on street corners, trains and buses, ensuring that everyone has easy access to their daily cuppa.
How to Celebrate National Chai Day
What better way to celebrate the history of chai and honor this ancient beverage than by steeping a cup of spicy-sweet chai tea at home? The traditional method of preparing chai involves simmering the tea bags with water, milk, and sugar or honey.
Savor the complex aromas and spicy-sweet flavor of Republic Chai® Black Tea. Northern Indian tea leaves and rich, full-bodied imperial spices deliver a classic chai flavor profile. For something a bit different, sample Republic Chai® Green Tea or Republic Chai® Red Tea.
Add the sweet, warm spiciness of masala chai to any cup of tea with Chai Spice Honey for Tea. Inspired by the age-old chai recipes of India, this Grade A white honey features a blend of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves.
As your chai tea steeps, wrap your hands around the warm cup and breathe in the aroma of fine tea leaves and rich warming spices. Happy National Chai Day!