There are few things in the world that bring me more warmth than chai tea latte on a cold winter day. The spicy scent of chai never fails to make my mind wander to lazy days in cosy cafes. However, my association of the drink as a coffee shop staple is far from its historical origins. Chai tea latte is actually a misnomer (chai means tea so the name currently means “tea tea latte”), but it pays homage to its roots in the Indian masala chai (meaning “spiced tea”). The recipe varies across locals and tastes but usually begins with a base in black tea, like Assam, or green tea. The base spices are ginger, cardamom, and additional herbs may be added such as cinnamon, star anise, fennel, peppercorn, clove, nutmeg, chilli, liquorice, turmeric, and saffron. Originally, milk and sugar were added to reduce the costs of masala chai. The westernized chai tea latte, however, involves adding a concentrated spiced tea to steamed milk. Though straying from its traditional ways, masala chai and chai tea lattes have evolved to be a massively popular drink across continents.
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