Chai has its origins in ayurvedic herbal medicine several thousand years ago where it was given as a cleansing and general health-boosting drink for treating minor ailments.  During this time it was made without tea leaves but when the British introduced tea plantations to India in the 1800’s, the black teas they produced made their way into traditional spiced tea recipes following a promotional campaign by the British East India Company.  Factories, mines and textile mills were encouraged to provide “tea breaks” for their workers as a means of boosting the consumption of black tea within India.  The British East India Company also supported many independent “Chai-Wallahs” throughout the growing railway system.  However, Indian people found black tea to be too bland and too expensive and so they added spices to improve the flavour and reduce costs.

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