The idea of ‘chai’ as we know it in the West comes from the Indian drink ‘Masala Chai’ (‘chai’ is just the Hindi word for tea.) Traditionally, Masala Chai is a blend of black tea, milk, some kind of sweetener and a blend of spices, known as Karha. This spice mix is traditionally made up of cardamom, ginger and cinnamon, with other spices such as cloves and black pepper.
You might wonder why, as part of a review, I’m giving you a lesson on Indian beverages.
The reason is simple: Whittard’s Mumbai Chai is probably the closest to an authentic chai blend as I’ve come across in my (few) chai drinking years.
I am longing for icy days, when you can see your breath; this is perfect chai weather. The spices in this blend are warming and intense, but in a good way. I have yet to make it in the traditional Indian way, but rest assured, I am planning on it and will let you know how it goes. (In the meantime, I have been drinking Whittard’s Instant Vanilla Chai powder, which is lovely- even my sister is a fan and she’s not a great lover of ‘fancy tea’.)
I’m also planning on using this tea as a replacement for coffee in some of Joy the Baker‘s recipes (I’m allergic to coffee, hence the love of tea), as I think the flavour is strong enough to stand up on its own and make a really interesting cake.
As a simple, straightforward tea made in the usual way, Mumbai Chai has a powerful but harmonic spicy taste, which I’m loving first thing in the morning. It definitely has more of a kick than, say, Earl Grey blends and will wake you up quite quickly!