In Pursuit of the Perfect Chai

Many have asked whether they can drink The Tea Merchant loose leaf tea with milk and sugar. The idea of our teas drowning in milk is blasphemous … yes it is for most of our teas. We specialize in over 100 blends of loose leaf teas and it’s safe to say only 10% of these may be enjoyed with milk and sugar. BUT… we serve the perfect CHAI …

Chai is the word for tea in Hindi and several other Asian languages. Chai is TEA so we can all stop going around and ordering CHAI tea. In India, Masala Chai can be classified as the national drink. . Masala refers to a combination of spices in Indian cuisine; masala Chai then directly translates to spiced tea. Chai is to India what Rooibos is to South Africa. If you ever travel to India, you will be able to enjoy chai on all Indian roadsides served and sold by chai ‘wallahs’. I must say watching Chai wallahs prepare and serve chai boiled up with spices, sugar and milk is a treat. No surprise then that tea is most widely consumed in India with plenty of milk and sugar. It’s also common for the Indians to make tea with no water.

What is Chai?

There is no one recipe for Chai. For as many various regions as there are in India, there are just as many ways to make this spiced beverage. However, there are some staple players in making this brew, namely Black tea and Ginger. When you blend Black tea leaves with varies spices this is what we call Chai. The spices used vary from blend to blend. The most common are cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and pepper.

How to make Chai

I prefer my Chai made with loose leaf black tea and the actual spice bits and never the instant powder variety. It’s very simple to prepare too, you boil the chai with fresh milk in a pot on the stove and allow that to boil so the flavours can meld. Once the milk is at boiling point you would pour the blend through a strainer. It’s important to pour the milk through a strainer as to not have tea leaves or spice bits in your cup. Alternatively you may place chai in a teapot and brew with a mixture of hot milk and boiled water. Add some sugar and this has got to be the best hot beverage ON THE PLANET.  For those who are lactose intolerant, I suggest making Chai with Almond, soy or rice milk. Chai can also be made with water but I can almost guarantee you will have a change of heart once you try the milk version.

Health Benefits of Chai

Black tea, with its rich, full-bodied flavor isn’t only a delight to the taste buds, but pack with antibiotics and a host of health benefits. The spices that are generally used in making Chai are so nutritious too. Ginger is among the healthiest spices, it is loaded with nutrients that have powerful benefits for your body and brain. It has been used to help digestion, reduce nausea and help fight the flu and common cold, to name a few. Cinnamon has a long history both as a spice and as a medicine. Cardamom is one of the most expensive spices, ranking third, the first and second being saffron and vanilla. A combination of the above beverage is packed with nutrients, vitamins and minerals. So it’s good to know that Chai is delicious and healthy too.

Different types of Chai at The Tea Merchant

If this is your first encounter with Chai then don’t despair, we have you covered with 4 delicious blends available from the Tea Merchant retail stores.

Goa Chai

This is my favourite blend. I’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth so any food item with extra vanilla is definitely up my road. The extra vanilla bits give this blend a fine milk caramel taste…YUM


The key ingredients in the Goa Chai: Black Tea, Cassia Bits, Cardamom, Ginger Bits, Pink Pepper Kernels, Vanilla Bits

Thai Chai

Ask for a Chai and this would be the first blend our ladies will show you and get you to smell. It’s the most common blend of Chai available in the tea market.


The Key ingredients in Thai Chai: Black Tea, Cassia Bits, Ginger Bits, Cloves, Black Pepper, Cardamom

 Bombay Chai

If sweet doesn’t appeal to you then this would be your kind of Chai. Bombay chai is our very spicy Chai. You will definitely feel like a Masala dish after this drink. Chai is just as tasty with honey for those who are keeping a tight watch on those calories.


The key ingredients in Bombay Chai: Certified Organic Black Tea, Ginger, Cardamom, Cloves and Cinnamon

Gingerbread Chai

Christmassy gingerbread taste is how we describe this blend. It’s Christmas in a tin. Think gingerbread biscuits in a liquid form.


The key ingredients in Gingerbread chai: Pu-er Tea, Cloves, Almonds, Cacao Bean Pieces, Star Anise, Cacao Bean Shells, Cinnamon Flowers, Pink Pepper.

Chai is also becoming very common at major fast food retail chains. There is a growing line of pre-packaged consumer products in retail stores sold in different form ranging from loose leaf, teabags and instant chai powder. Remember milk or sugar doesn’t take away from the health benefits of black tea or the spice blend.

As the popularity of Chai continues to grow across the globe, there’s only one thing to remember. No point making tea that doesn’t taste good… Right?

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