September brings with it the anticipation of autumn, and with the equinox this Saturday, Autumn will officially start. We still have warm days, but the nights are cooler. Thoughts of the warming spices of cinnamon and cloves, of apples and cookies naturally come to the forefront. It’s high time for some chai! At vomFASS-Madison, that we’re celebrating the arrival of fall with Chai Vodka creations!
The origin of chai may date back five millennia. A story is told about a ruler in India who ordered a healing spiced beverage be created. In the Ayurvedic medical tradition, 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 freshen the breath.
As the healing beverage spread across India a wide variety of spices were used to prepare the drink. This original chai contained no black tea (leaves from Camellia sinensis), much less sugar and milk!
The Meaning of Chai
While many Americans were introduced to a warm beverage marketed as Chai Tea, it is truly a misnomer as “chai” literally means “tea” in the Hindi language. So, when we say “Chai Tea,” we are actually saying “tea tea.” The tea blend containing black tea, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and maybe ginger, and bit of pepper is more properly called Masala Chai.
The spice ingredients in this popular beverage of India may change, depending on the region, family, and time of year it is served. Chaiwallah (vendors who specifically sell chai) throughout India serve their regional chai with sugar and milk. What we think of in America as this highly specialized beverage is, in India, simply the standard way of preparing this popular national beverage.
The addition of black tea leaves, milk and sugar were popularized thousands of years later when the Camellia sinensis assamica tea plant variety was discovered in India and cultivated by the British in the mid-1800's. During this time, the British East India Company was thriving, with tea from Assam, India being one of its biggest commodities. As the British colonized India, their insatiable desire for strong black tea with milk and sugar was introduced to the area.
As tea consumption in India grew, and eventually, Indians took the British preparation of tea—black with milk and sugar—and put their own spin on it, with the addition of spices. This crossover created the Chai culture in India. The addition of black tea to the chai adds a full-bodied, richly aromatic, and malty taste which can give notes of fresh bread and caramel.
Our exceptionally smooth vodka, distilled from American grains and apples, is infused with black tea and spices to create our Chai Vodka. An organic masala chai blend is steeped in our premium vodka for up to 8 hours to produce this exquisite product. The black tea provides the deep base and caramel notes while spices enrich this exceptional elixir with their hints of clove, allspice, and a touch of black pepper. This rich and flavorful Chai Vodka exhibits a fine spicy nose and is an excellent choice for changing up your autumn vodka cocktails. Check out our Chai Latte Martini set, or the simple and delicious recipes below!