Chai generally refers to a black tea blended with spices. Chai translates to ‘tea’ in Hindi, and in India chai is a part of life. Tea vendors, called Chaiwallahs, are present on the street corners of every town. They brew basic black tea with one or two spices, and add milk and sugar. The history of chai is nearly 5,000 years old. Some say it was created by royalty in Siam and India. Other accounts trace its origin to the healing system of Ayurveda.
Use one tsp chai per 8oz water. Bring to full boil for 3 minutes. Add 1 part milk to 3 parts water, then boil for an additional 2 minutes. Do not return rice or soy milk to a boil. Remove from heat just as the leaf and spices re-circulate to the top of the pan. Strain and sweeten to taste. Top with ground cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg.
Chai pairs well with sweet foods, desserts, spicy foods and heavy foods, such as meat or cream-based dishes.