Everything You Need to Know (and more) About Minor Figures Chai
by Kennadee Wilkie
What Is Chai?
Chai is a tea beverage made by boiling black tea with a mixture of aromatic herbs and spices. Originating in India, it has gained immense popularity worldwide, and is a modern staple in coffee and tea houses around the world.
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What is Minor Figures Chai?
Minor Figures take on this treasured Indian drink combines handpicked and high-quality teas and the finest natural spices. Inside their microbrewery in East London, Minor Figures slow-brews their chai over the course of an entire day to capture the purity, intensity, and depth of each and every ingredient. Like other Minor Figures products, the chai concentrate is vegan friendly and sugar-free.
A 1:4 concentrate ratio is recommended by Minor Figures themselves for hot and iced chai lattes, and the 1-litre carton will get you 20 servings. The product is shelf stable and doesn’t require refrigeration until after opening. Once opened, it is recommended to use within 3 weeks to ensure the best drinking experience.
energy - 1 KCal
total fat - 0 g
saturated fat - 0 g
carbohydrates - 0 g
sugars - 0 g
protein - 0 g
salt - 0 g
filtered water, black tea, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, black pepper, star anise, nutmeg, cloves, lemon juice, stevia sweetener
Who is Minor Figures?
Minor Figures is one of the leading brands in the United Kingdom coffee world. They create products designed for coffee professionals and enthusiasts. Their products are aimed at both customers and professionals, and blur the lines dividing the two, as the overlap between the needs of customers and baristas continue to increase.
Minor Figures celebrates individuality, curiousity, and enthusiasm, which has allowed them to create a strong brand with a hint of mystery. They want their products to surprise and delight people, and they strive to make these products both delicious and nutritious.
All Minor Figures products are 100% plant based with no added sugar. Despite these characteristics, Minor Figures ensures that there is no compromise on flavour, quality, or innovation.
Minor Figures' headlining product is their to-die-for oat milk, which you can find HERE. With the combination of Minor Figures chai and oat milk, it will be tough to find a dynamic duo as delicious and dreamy as this.
What is the History of Chai?
Chai is steeped in a long, rich history, and the sweet tea treat we order in coffee houses today has very little in common with the origins of traditional Indian chai. Historically, Indians viewed tea as a herbal medicine rather than as a recreational beverage.
Legend has it that the origin of chai dates back to more than 5000 years ago when a King in what is now India ordered a healing spiced beverage be created for use in Ayurveda. Ayurveda is a traditional medicinal practice in which herbs and spices are used for healing. Heat from ginger and black pepper was believed to stimulate digestion, antiseptic properties in cloves were thought to help pain relief, cardamom was used as a mood elevator, cinnamon supported circulation and respiratory function, and star anise was known to freshen breaths.
At the time of origin, chai did not contain any tea leaves and was caffeine free. In 1835 the British set up tea farms in Assam, a region in India. Tea consumption in India grew and eventually Indians took the popular British preparation of tea - black with milk and sugar - and put their own spin on it. In Assam the black teas produced on the farms made their way into local masala chai recipes, which was the first appearance of chai as it is known today. Originally this mixture lacked mass appeal in the region because tea was primarily an export and was too expensive for most. Consumption of black tea in India remained low until the early 1900s when the British-owned Indian Tea Association began a promotional campaign for Indian tea consumption. This encouraged factories, mines, and textile mills to provide tea breaks for their workers. Since black tea was the most expensive ingredient, vendors would use other ingredients such as milk, sugar, and spices to keep the brews flavourful while also holding costs down. In the 1960s chai became even more popular in India when a mechanized form of tea production made black tea affordable for the masses.
Today's Chai Impact:
Nowadays, India is not only one of the largest producers of tea in the world but one of the largest consumers. Chai is a way of life in India and almost everywhere you go you will see people gulping down chais. In most cities chaiwalas - vendors who specifically sell chai - will be found on every corner. In some areas people drink an average of four small cups of chai per day, and it is offered to guests of every home. Popular times for chai is in the morning with breakfast, or around 4 pm with an afternoon snack such as samosas, pakoras, farsan, or nashta.
Liquid chai concentrates have become very popular for the convenience of simply diluting the product with milk, water, or both to create a flavourful hot or cold beverage. Many Western supermarkets offer chai tea bags and bottles of “chai spice” alongside their herbs and spices.
Chai and Western Culture:
In English, chai is known most commonly as “masala chai” or simply just “chai.” The term “chai” originated from the Hindu word for tea, which was derived from the Chinese word for tea, “cha”. Therefore in English, when referring to chai as “chai tea” you are basically saying “tea tea.” In Western culture, chai has become known as a type or flavour of tea, but in India chai is not a flavour of tea, it is tea. In the West what we think is this highly-specialized tea beverage is, in India is simply the standard way of preparing tea. Western adaptations of chai commonly have a sweeter and lighter taste than the Indian version of a more herbal and spicier milk beverage.
By 1994 chai had gained currency in the Western culture coffee house scene. Chai is common in coffee houses for a chai tea latte, where baristas substitute espresso in a latte for chai concentrate.
Can You Put Coffee In Chai?
Most chai contains about one-third the caffeine of coffee. Some coffee houses offer a more informal way of drinking chai, a version with espresso, and this version doesn’t have any one universally-recognized name. It was invented accidentally in England in the late 1990s by a barista preparing a chai tea latte for an American customer. The barista accidentally poured a shot of espresso in with the chai, and curious about the combination, the customer wanted to try it. The customer thought it was delicious and made sure to order it wherever they went, thus beginning the spread of this unique twist on chai. This version is commonly referred to as a “java chai”, “red eye chai”, “turbocharger”, “chai charger”, “tough guy chai”, or “dirty chai”, among other terms, depending on the establishment and region.
What are the Ingredients in Chai?
Recipes for chai vary across continents, cultures, towns, and families. The huge variation of chai recipes makes this a very flexible and versatile drink, with endless directions of which the flavour profile can go depending on which ingredients are and aren’t included.
With very few exceptions, the base of chai is almost always a black tea. There are many variations of black tea for chai, but Assam is the most common as it has a strong and full-bodied flavour that spices and sweeteners don’t overpower. The most common ingredient other than the black tea is cardamom, followed by some mixture of cinnamon, ginger, star anise, and cloves.
Traditional chai is a spiced beverage brewed with different proportions of warming spices. The spice mixture is called “karha” and uses a base of ground ginger and green cardamom pods. Traditionally, these are the dominant notes, supplemented by other spices that are usually added to the karha such as cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds, peppercorn, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom seeds, ginger root, honey, vanilla, among others. Other possible, yet rarer, ingredients include cumin, lemongrass, mace, chili, coriander, rose petals, or liquorice root.
How Do You Make Chai?
The recipe or preparation method for chai is not fixed, and it may vary according to taste or tradition. Some may combine all ingredients at the start, bring to a boil, then immediately strain and serve. Others may leave the mixture simmering for a longer time, or bring the tea leaves to a boil and only add the spices towards the end, or vice versa.
The simplest traditional method of preparing chai is through decoction. Decoction is actively simmering or boiling a mixture of milk and water with loose leaf tea, sweeteners, and whole spices. Black tea leaves steep in the hot water long enough to extract intense flavour, ideally without releasing the bitter tannins. Tannins are chemical compounds found in a variety of plant-based foods and beverages. This includes tea, and they are responsible for giving tea its dry and somewhat bitter flavour. They can also provide colour in certain types of tea. Before serving, solid tea and spice residues are strained off.
Traditionally in India, water buffalo milk is used to make chai, by mixing one part milk with two to four parts water and heating to a simmer or a boil. Those who prefer to drink chai without milk simply replace the milk portion with water.
Where Can I Get Minor Figures Oat Milk?
For home or office use of this amazing product, check out our online shop HERE to "chai" it out ;)
For wholesale inquiries in British Columbia and Alberta please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get you started!
Contact HERE for any further information and inquiries about Minor Figures.
Read about Minor Figures oat milk HERE.
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