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A Comprehensive Guide to Chai

chai spices

We’ve been making our own unique blend of Firepot Chai for nearly 20 years now. Our authentic, sweet, and vibrant blend of black tea and organic spices have won the hearts and captured the taste buds of Firepot devotees for close to two decades. What started as a mission to save the world with ethical teas in 2001 has since then, for us, become a national brand. Curiosity about the variety of spices used in chai prompted us to play with different flavor profiles until we achieved masala nirvana. From then on, Firepot chai wasn’t just an option on our became a worldwide movement.



An ancient medicine, a sweetly spiced coffee shop drink, a way to connect with friends and family? Chai can be so many things to so many people. 

But exactly what is Chai Tea?

“Chai” is a common translation of the Hindi word “chāy” simply meaning “tea”. Around the world, the two most common names for tea are 1. A variation on “chai” or “cha” 2. A variation on “tay” or “tea."  So in saying Chai Tea, you are literally saying "tea tea

When we say Chai Tea, we are referring to a beverage from the Indian subcontinent where people have for ages boiled local spices with black tea, milk, and sugar. In India, the word for tea is chai, so when the first Westerners who traveled to India and fell in love with this popular street food returned home, they told stories of a famed tea called chai.

More accurately, they were drinking Masala Chai. “Masala” is a Hindi word meaning “spice mix”, so “Masala Chai” loosely means spiced tea.

Whether you call it chai tea, masala chai, or just chai, it is a delicious blend of mixed spices boiled with black tea, milk, and sugar.



The history of chai dates back to over 5000 years ago! And believe it or not, the original chai contained no actual "tea" or rather Camellia sinensis (the plant that we use to make tea) leaves. Instead, it was a blend of spices used in Eastern and specifically Ayurvedic medicine as a healing beverage. Milk and sugar were added later to make the spices a bit more palatable.

 women farming tea fields in rwanda


The addition of black tea leaves is thought to have been popularized in the mid-1800s when the Camellia sinensis assamica tea variety was discovered in India. During that time, tea was beginning to be cultivated by the British, who ruled the continent and had more than a small obsession with “the China drink”, tea. This was the beginning of modern chai as we know it. People added tropical sweet spices to locally grown tea and a culinary revolution was born!

In India, it took a few more years to realize that the local workers in the factories, the textile mills and the mines would also improve their efficiency if they were given the benefit of the tea break and a cup of tea. Patrons followed and tea consumption then developed rapidly.

This generated the introduction of a typically Indian cup, the spicy milk tea brew called masala chai, which quickly became part of the Indian way of life. Indeed, with the Indians’ innate sense for business, hundreds and then thousands of chai wallahs – small business operators – set up their street stalls for brewing and selling their masala chai from early morning to late in the night. In this way, chai has come to be sold on every street corner across India and is a symbol of hospitality, friendship, and connection.



People adore chai not just because of the taste, but also because of the healthful properties it provides body and mind. Here are just a few of the reasons chai has become a global treasure: 


It can wake you up! Black tea leaves naturally contain caffeine and can give you lasting energy and focus of a cup of coffee without the jitters.


Can help with nausea relief! Ginger not only adds a little kick to your chai but also can help soothe an upset stomach and nausea.


Multiple studies have shown higher antioxidant levels and "flavonoids" within one hour of drinking tea. Research is ongoing, but it definitely packs a health punch! 


Clove has historically been used as a natural pain remedy, especially in toothaches!

 chai spices in a bowl


In addition to the wellness that the base tea used in chai affords, there are abundant benefits from the spice combination used. Spices most commonly found in chai are those grown in India and Sri Lanka, where chai, as we know it is the West, comes from. Think cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and black peppercorns.  Sometimes star anise nutmeg, allspice, and turmeric are added too.


Not only is cinnamon sweet, delicious, and low in calories, but it also helps protect against inflammation, fend off free radicals that can cause damage to cells, fight unhealthy bacteria, and even help lower blood sugar levels. This popular spice can also lead to purification and spiritual growth. 


A staple of Indian cooking, it is only natural that cardamom would be a popular spice in chai tea. Cardamom is said to uplift the spirits, calm nerves, and clarify your thoughts. Known as a stimulant to the mind and provides warmth to the body, this healing spice has also been said to help impotence, headaches, and pregnancy.


This amazing root offers a variety of physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits on many different levels. Ginger aids digestion by improving circulation and delivering oxygen to organs so they can perform optimally. It’s best known for its medicinal use for alleviating nausea, antioxidant properties, and increasing blood circulation, but this spicy root is known to have aphrodisiac properties as well.


Cloves are well known for their healing powers and are considered one of the most powerful protective herbs. Cloves are high in antioxidants and can kill bacteria as well as improve liver health and regulate blood sugar. This special herb is also known to encourage friendships.


In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties and cancer-fighting abilities, black peppercorns can benefit your brain, lower cholesterol levels, and even fight cancer. Black pepper helps the pancreas produce digestive enzymes. Spiritually, black pepper represents courage and strength.


This medicinal herb is thought to symbolize hidden worth. It is also popular for its health benefits which include good eye health, lowering cholesterol, stimulating insulin and memory, and more.

 rwandan tea fields


Chai is such a versatile beverage! As we mentioned above, different teas can form the base for chai. You can experiment with various spice blends, and you can drink it hot or iced. Different types of milk also add their own flavor profile: cow's milk, almond milk, oat milk or soy milk are examples. From there, you can add a dollop of honey  or a shot of espresso for a "dirty chai." For Firepot aficionados, you can enjoy your chai loose-leaf, in a concentrate, or as a tea sachet! 


rooibos chai tin with chai latte


Our original loose leaf chai blends are made by boiling the tea with water and milk and then adding sugar, any additional ingredients like vanilla, sea salt, or fresh ginger,  stirring, and then straining. 


Flexibility: You can add your sweetener of choice or create a sugar-free version. The concentrate is already brewed with raw, organic sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of sea salt.

Economical: Each tin of loose leaf chai makes over 20 cups of tea, a fantastic value! Concentrates make 6 12 ounce cups of chai each.

Storage: The loose-leaf blend maintains its freshness for up to a year. The concentrate must be consumed within a 6-month shelf life date. 


masala chai concentrate bottles


Our slow steeped and micro-brewed chai concentrate bottles are ready to use with tea, spices, sugar, vanilla, and sea salt. Just add milk and heat, ice, or create! And a bottle of chai concentrate opens up a whole new level for ways to enjoy cha in cocktails, cooking, and baking! 


Convenience: Simply combine with equal parts milk and heat or ice! Sweet and simple! 
Creativity: A bottle of chai concentrate opens up a whole new level for ways to enjoy chai in cocktails, cooking, and baking! Chai concentrate can be used as an ingredient for our Chai Tiramisu, Chai Apple Bread and our Chai Pumpkin Pie recipes. Your imagination is the limit!

soul revival rituals collection sachets


Our chai tea sachet option is Soul Revival - an uplifting blend of turmeric chai and fair trade organic black tea from Assam, India, organic cinnamon, organic turmeric, organic cardamom, organic ginger, organic cloves.  Interested in more tea sachet options beyond chai, our Rituals Collection brings you strength of body, mind, and spirit in 14 convenient plant-based organic tea sachets per box.


Convenience: Tea sachets are easily tucked into purses, briefcases, and luggage to enjoy wherever you go. Steep 1 tea sachet in 8 ounces of boiling water for 5 minutes. Add milk and honey to taste.
Creativity: Enjoy Soul Revival with a personal ritual designed to rejuvenate and refocus your mental health and wellness. Sit and breathe deeply. Be still and allow your inner voice to guide you. Brush away any negative energy. Focus on positive words and thoughts, or turn on your favorite music and dance.