The redundancy of "Chai Tea" (Masala Chai)

masala_chaiWe’ve all said it, “chai tea” — the greatest redundancy in the world of tea. In the Hindi language, “chai” means “tea”, so saying “chai tea” is the same as saying “tea tea.” Just think about that the next time you are in a coffeeshop and hear someone order a “chai tea latte” — whatever that is. Granted the popularized form of “chai tea” in America is syrup or powder based anyway – so calling what most drink in America “masala chai” would be a bastardization.  Masala refers to a mixture of spices; in masala chai, usually cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and black pepper. Thus “masala chai” means “spice tea.” While on the subject of masala chai, here are some guidelines to make great masala chai from loose leaf:

1. Prepare a 3:1 mixture of milk to water (some recipes call for a 1:1 ratio).
2. Add masala chai to the mixture and heat for 15 minutes.
3. Add sugar to taste, start with adding 1.5 teaspoons for each cup of liquid used.