From Himalayan ridges in Darjeeling, tropical valleys of Assam, and lush jungles of Nilgiri, India exports the most tea in the world. Assam is home to India’s indigenous, wild tea plant: Camillia sinensis assamica.

Britain introduced tea to India in the 19th century, although it is likely Indigenous Assam tea plants were used long before and referenced by a different name. Tea was also traditionally a food. Despite painful origin stories of tea in India through British imperialism, tea culture was adopted and woven into vibrant fabrics of Indian culture.

When tea plantations were first established in India, prices were too high for locals, so vendors blended traditional spices, fresh milk and sugars to make tea more affordable. This created Chai. Today Chai stalls dot nearly all Indian streets.

‘Chai’ means ‘tea’ in Hindi, from the Mandarin word chá. Essentially ‘Chai’ and ‘tea’ are synonymous. The spice mix used to make Chai dates back millennia, originating from traditional Ayurveda practice of using herbs for healing. Today no matter the season, or location one is in India, Chai will be served hot and likely with crispy snacks. Tea from the most humble places are often the most delicious where tea leaves are boiled with spices, then boiled again after adding milk + sugar.

Chai stalls are hubs for socialization - all ages and backgrounds gather to exchange ideas about almost anything. Chai is a welcoming conversation starter in India.

There is no set recipe for a proper Chai, with much regional variability, and while every chaachee (auntie) may claim to have the best, we hope you enjoy ours! Our Masala Chai uses Assam CTC, standing for cut-tear-curl, a method of tea processing developed in India. We also have a more traditional Masala inspired by a time before tea/Chai.

Some Darjeelings we offer come from mountain gardens accessible only by foot. Some Assam is from where native wild elephants occasionally run through a garden. It is in criss-crossing vast lands of tea where the tiger once thrived. To honour this, we crafted Bengal, drawing inspiration from the mighty tiger for an adventurous and spiced black tea.

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