Spilling the tea on the history of chai.

 By Rahma Rifkhan

As the hot water seeps in through the tea leaves, the aroma of rich spices fills the air. A perfect harmony of flavours rings in every single sip. The fiery boldness of the ginger is complemented by the persistent sweetness of the cardamom, enhanced by the edge of the peppercorns and completed by the cinnamon’s earthiness. Along with the fragrant spices and frothy milk brews the tale of Chai: A bitter-sweet story of how this exotic beverage was discovered.

Indian masala chai tea. Spiced tea with milk on the rustic wooden table. Horizontal permission. Selective focus. Copy space.

This steaming cup of Chai, which is now the subject of countless Instagram stories has a dark past steeped in tales of British Colonialism and Indian Rebellion.  Chinese tea was all the fire among the Brits in the 1650s. Wanting to overthrow the Chinese-dominated tea trade, The British started looking elsewhere to grow tea. This is when they stumbled upon the lush lands of Assam, a northeastern state in India, where tea bushes grew wild. In the late 1830s, the first tea plantations were established and the British got wealthier while the locals laboured on.  Under harsh working conditions, constant abuse and inhuman treatment; India’s tea Industry was born.

In the early 1900s, the British started a major marketing campaign to promote the tea-drinking culture within India. They introduced tea breaks, gave away free cups at gatherings and set up stalls nation-wide. However, there was a problem: black tea was expensive. In an attempt to lower the cost, local tea-vendors started adding spices, milk and sugar to the mix, against British recommendations. From this single act of rebellion decades ago, came forth something loved by millions today. 

As India entered the 1960s, industrialised production of black tea made Chai even more affordable and so, its popularity soared, capturing the hearts of an entire nation. This is the story of how Masala Chai began.

Tea has been an integral part of Lankan heritage and culture, dating all the way back to the era of British rule. Masala Chai, however, was enjoyed quietly in different corners of our island until recently, when it took the country by storm thanks to social media. Instagram posts and Snapchat stories of Chai complementing sunrises and sunsets; late nights and early-mornings; friend groups and family gatherings have ignited a Chai-craze among the Lankan crowd. Multiple Chai-selling spots that keep popping up all over Colombo has definitely added to this.

If all this Chai talk has you craving for a steaming cup of spicy-goodness, here are some local spots you can hit!

Chaiwala Colombo           –       No-33 Frankfort Pl, Colombo 04

Unu Unu Tea Express     –       No- 27 Jaya Rd, Colombo 04

Karak                             –       No- 377 A, Galle Rd, Colombo 03

Bombay Chaiwala         –      No- 418, R.A De Mel Mawatha, Colombo 03

The art of Chai has been passed down many  generations, seeped in culture and heritage through centuries. There is no single recipe for this unique infusion. From family to family, town to town and country to country, the recipe differs but one thing stays constant. Wherever a cup of Chai is shared, it never fails to bring people together for a few moments of shared joy in a world of uncertainty.

So, here’s to Chai: The drink that connects crowds across continents.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp

Highlights.

Latest.

KAMU.

Satisfy your Kottu cravings at KottuLabs

Located in Nawala down a little lane, Kottulabs is home to the widest and most

Highlights Kamu

A flavorful journey to the North East by Paadum Meen

An ecstatically beautiful place located down Frankfort place, Bambalapitiya has caught a significant eye for

Highlights Kamu

Hummus Festival 2022 – Graze Kitchen by Hilton

By Shamrina Carim The stunning atmosphere Walking into this masterpiece designed by an excellent interior

Kamu

A Luxury European Dining experience at 1864 Limited Edition

Ambience Intimate dining area for couples and friends Comfy lounge areas to sit and catch

Highlights Kamu

Pizza Hut – My Box Birizza Fever- review

By Sumaiya Jaleel Hurrah! Welcome back to your scrumptious feast. Pizza Hut has brought back

Highlights Kamu

The Hottest Food Fest of the Year: Eat Street Colombo

By Janani Vithanage After a 2 year (Covid induced break), Sri Lanka’s biggest, best food

Highlights Kamu

Trending.

Tom Cruise Returns As The Iconic Fighter Pilot In Top Gun: Maverick

Scope Cinemas Premieres Top Gun: Maverick Starring Tom Cruise Colombo, Sri Lanka - 26 May

Trending

Things you Should Know About Monkeypox

By Janani Vithanage As Sri Lanka navigates what seems like the worst financial crisis she’s

Highlights Trending

 Unique Burger Promotion at Hilton Colombo

Hilton Colombo is presenting five unique burgers at Café Kai, LAB and SunsetBlu from 28th

Trending

Ramada by Wyndham Colomb Wins 2022 Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Award 

Ramada by Wyndham Colombo is recognized with the 2022 Tripadvisor Travelers' Choice Award for the

Trending

‘Encounters’: The Second Exhibition by the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Sri Lanka

-  A walk through history that gives you a feel of déjà vu, especially when

Trending

Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo’s ColomBar moves to newly refurbished location

04 May2022, Colombo: Colombo’s iconic and stylish destination bar, ColomBar, has been re-located to its

Trending

Yamu Guide.

7 Restaurants to dine in June 2022

Here is a mix of aesthetically pleasing restaurants that are known for their Instagrammable background

Highlights Yamu Guide

The Embazzy – a relaxing luncheon spot

By Hiruni Herath Service and Ambience Stepping into The Embazzy, it’s clear that the restaurant

Highlights Yamu Guide

What to expect at a Yala National Park Safari

Covering an extensive area of Southern and Uva Provinces, Yala is the second largest national

Yamu Guide

Everything you need at Online Kade

Located in the heart of Rajagiriya Online Kade also has a branch in Colombo 04

Yamu Guide

5 Co-working spaces in Colombo

By Tashia Ranasinghe Here are some more interesting places for all the digital nomads out

Highlights Yamu Guide

7 Buffets to Indulge In this Easter 2022

By Janani Vithanage As the youth of our nation make their voices heard, the birth

Yamu Guide