The name "chai" is actually the Hindi word for "tea", which was derived from "cha", the Chinese word for "tea". Recipes for chai vary across regions, towns and families. We start with Indian black teas, predominantly Assam and then blend it with Cinnamon, Green Cardamom, Ginger and Vanilla. The spiced tea mixture is typically brewed strong with milk and sweetened with sugar or honey.
Legend has it that the origin of chai dates back more than 5,000 years, when a king in what is now India ordered a healing spiced beverage be created for use in Ayurveda, a traditional medicinal practice in which herbs and spices are used for healing. The heat from ginger and black pepper was believed to stimulate digestion; the antiseptic properties in cloves were thought to help relieve pain; cardamom was used as a mood elevator; cinnamon supported circulation and respiratory function; and star anise was known to fresh the breath. This original beverage contained no actual Camellia Sinensis tea leaves. The addition of black tea leaves, milk and sugar were popularized thousands of years later (in the mid -1800s) when the Camellia Sinensis assamica tea plant variety was discovered in India.