Tea may be associated with the British, but you would be surprised to know that Indians love this beverage even more! In fact, almost 90% of the total households in India consume cuppa, and 64% of them drink it routinely. What is amusing is though they are one of the world’s top five exporters of tea, more than 89% of their production goes to India!
One result of their love for tea is the creation of chai tea, or masala chai, a traditional and cultural tea served in almost every corner of India. While it is a challenge to go to the country and enjoy an authentic one, here are some of the best Chai tea brands to try.
1. Trader Joe’s
Starting off the list is a familiar brand that surprisingly makes delicious chai tea. Trader Joe’s Spiced Chai’s masterful blend of black tea and spices makes for a warm and savory cuppa that is best enjoyed iced, although serving it hot on a cold day will give you a comforting feeling.
The loose leaves also contain chicory to give it pleasant smoky, and nutty notes. It is on the gentler and sweeter side as the caramel-like flavor is highlighted more, but the robustness of the spices subtly lingers on the mouth, giving you a zing every now and then. You can choose to steep the leaves longer to extract more of the spices’ flavors.
Given the quality of the product, I love that it is quite affordable! There is also a Tea Latte Mix where powdered milk is added for a creamier alternative. You might also be interested in our explainer on how much caffeine is in a chai tea latte.
2. Stash Tea
Masala chai is customarily made with black tea, but Stash Tea’s unique take on the Indian cuppa gives it a refreshing twist by blending the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger root, and sarsaparilla with the lighter green tea leaves.
Provided that you might miss the malty texture of the usual chai tea, you will be astonished by how the softer green tea works with the strong spices. It is balanced in flavor though the grassy and earthy notes are noticeable. Regardless, it is a refreshing alternative that will encourage you to explore other chai tea variations in the future.
3. VAHDAM Tea
It would be a crime not to include VAHDAM as the brand has one of the most exquisite tasting masala chai in the market today. VAHDAM’s Masala Chai Tea is as traditional as it gets, with its ingredients composed of just black tea, cardamom, cinnamon, and black pepper. The blend of these makes for a soothing cuppa that is not too sweet nor overpowering, with a fragrant aftertaste.
Despite its smoothness, it is high in caffeine which makes it an ideal cuppa first thing in the morning. Adding a dash of milk and honey or sugar for a latte version is highly recommended though drinking it on its own will allow you to appreciate its elegant flavors more.
This has carefully mixed proportions of Assam CTC chai tea loose leaf and spices like crushed Cardamom pods, Cinnamon, Cloves & Black Pepper. This loose tea which can be also taken as milk tea has rich flavor and and health benefits like detoxifying the body, boosting immunity & improving digestion with its 100% natural ingredients without any preservatives.
4. The Chai Box
The Chai Box’s All Chai’d Up tea exhibits a bold and flavorful chai tea unlike any other because of its distinctive blend composed of Assam, Darjeeling, and orange pekoe tea leaves meticulously gathered from the Indian state of Kerala.
This cuppa is elevated by ginger, clove, cinnamon, cardamom, and fennel that creates a savory infusion of Eastern and Western spices. The end result is an aroma that brightens up the room and an alluring flavor that balances the sweet and spicy notes flawlessly.
If you are going to add milk, I recommend using soy or oat to heighten the malty and creamy texture! Adding a ginger slice or two can also do wonders for the spiciness of the drink. It is no surprise that the beverage landed on Oprah Winfrey’s list of favorite things!
5. Blue Lotus Chai
If ever you need a quick pick-me-up in the middle of the day, Blue Lotus Chai’s Mint Masala provides an authentic masala chai that gives an electrifying cuppa. The tea is in powder form and consists of a combination of the usual organic spices plus nutmeg for an additional woody and nutty hint, black pepper for an extra spicy punch, and peppermint extract for a twist.
The pepper and nutmeg notes can be too apparent for some, so adding a splash of milk can slightly offset these flavors. If you want to enhance the drink, you can add a teaspoon of chocolate extract to up the sweetness and creaminess, plus it makes the flavor even more pleasant!
6. Nature’s Guru
Nature’s Guru is for tea lovers on the go; the brand is best known for powdered tea mixes that function like instant coffee. While you might be skeptical about tea in this form, the flavor is highly rated. You can also serve it hot and cold.
The Masala Spice Chai Tea is a must-try, but if you fancy experimenting, the brand offers lemongrass chai, ginger chai, and vanilla chai. Each blend is made from fresh Assam black tea.
7. Celestial Seasonings
Masala chai doesn’t need to be too powerful for you to experience its authentic flavor. If you want something smoother without blocking off the wonderful spices of this cuppa, Celestial Seasonings’ India Spice Chai brings a vivacious drink that dances around your tongue with every sip.
Though it contains the spices associated with the masala, such as roasted chicory, a touch of vanilla mellows down the strength of the drink, allowing you to enjoy it any time of the day. It is low in caffeine and gentle throughout. Adding a teaspoon of honey brings a natural sweetness to it.
If you plan to serve it iced, I suggest adding a splash of coconut milk for a thicker texture and a distinctly tropical flavor. You might also be interested in our vanilla chai tea guide.