You say you love chai.
But do you really know your chai? Or better yet, do you really know your masala chai?
Let’s get one thing straight. (A few things, actually.)
“Let’s introduce what masala chai actually means,” begins Kavita Sonapal Kaur of HumaniTea, a Singapore brand of handcrafted chai blends that she co-founded with her partner Scott Tay.
“Masala means ‘combination of spices’ and chai means ‘tea’. So masala chai is basically a mixed-spice tea, where the black tea is infused with fragrant spices, and is typically served with milk. (Many address this beverage as ‘chai tea’, which means ‘tea tea’. That is wrong and funny!)”
We stand corrected. 😊 “For those who would love to try mixed-spice tea, do give masala chai a go, and we promise it’s not a spicy tea but a fragrant and aromatic tea.”
Well-versed in tea
Kavita loves her chai and masala chai, and it’s easy to see why. “Indians and tea have a unique connection,” she says.
“It’s not just a drink for us, but a celebration where we bond over tea and connect with one another. It is a part of our lives that most of us cannot do without.
“Chai is normally served in typical Indian households daily, and it is also a way to welcome any guest, other than serving cold drinks,” she adds. “For us Punjabis, we will always ask if the guest would like to have a cup of chai, so that everyone can relax and chat over a cup of chai.”
Kavita has since learnt so much more about her beloved drink. “Being a health freak, what draws me to masala chai is the six to eight different spices in a single cup! It is not only filled with aroma, but tons of health properties,” she describes.
“The spices are rich in antioxidant properties, it is an amazing immunity booster, and it improves digestion too! Not forgetting the versatility of the drink, I’ve never had two identical masala chai made by two different people.
“Different people drink their masala chai differently – either drinking it with just three to four spices, or six to eight spices; either with 100 per cent milk or diluted with water; and using different sweeteners such as sugar, evaporated milk, honey or agave, etc,” she concludes.
But whatever Kavita decides to do with her chai or masala chai, its personal meaning and effects on her are undeniable. “It’s an opportunity to sit back, relax and connect with people over a hot glass of chai and snacks,” she emphasises.
“Physically, it reduces bloating due to the ginger. And it helps improve blood circulation, which alleviates symptoms of cramps, aches and pains.”
Tea for today
As someone who has masala chai and chai blends every day (“We have serious cravings!”), you can expect a curious Kavita to have had many over the years.
Can she remember some of them? Which ones made an impression? “Saffron masala chai, rose masala chai, chocolate masala chai, gula melaka masala chai, and our favourites lavender masala chai and vanilla masala chai,” she answers promptly.
Coincidentally, lavender masala chai is their first HumaniTea product, while vanilla masala chai “will be launched later this year”, Kavita tells us.
So it doesn’t just end with them trying out chai blends – she and Scott are thrilled about creating and experimenting with them too. “We’ve become a lot more sensitive to each spice flavour,” Kavita admits.
“These days, when we play around with the blends, just from a few sips we can tell which spice is stronger and which spice we will prefer to tone down.
“But what truly excites us is taking a traditional healthy beverage to a whole new level with the creative blends,” she continues. “Non-chai drinkers will now be curious and less intimidated by the word ‘masala’ or mixed-spice tea.”
With what Kavita has shared with us so far, “intimidated” would probably be the last word we’d use to describe how we now feel about masala chai. Like them, “excited” would be more like it – especially when we discover Kavita’s three favourite ways to have masala chai and chai blends. We might find ourselves drinking and enjoying them even more. 🙂
“Many people are lactose-intolerant, so we experimented with different plant-based milks. We prefer oat milk,” she states.
“What we have realised is that plant-based milk is lighter and diluted compared to cow’s milk. So the ratio of water to milk proportions will change. What we recommend is to use very little water or just use 100 per cent milk, so (the drink) stays creamy.”
#2 Iced chai latte
“In Singapore, who doesn’t love a cold drink, right? That’s why we recently shared a brewing guide on how to make chai latte ice cubes! Excited customers couldn’t wait to try it.”
#3 “Cheat way”
“Disclaimer: This is only for those who are used to strong spices and black tea without any milk or sweetener! Then we call this the fastest and easiest way to have spiced tea. Just drop a spoon of the blend in hot water for four to six minutes, strain and drink. No boiling needed! We like to have this in the office.”
There should also be a #4, #5 and #6: HumaniTea’s Morning Bliss, Rise & Shine, and Wild & Free. 👍
Morning Bliss (Lavender Masala Chai)
“Morning Bliss is a very calming drink for us. The fresh lavender buds infuse so well with the black tea leaves and Indian spices. It makes chai drinkers curious when they hear the word ‘lavender’ together with masala chai,” Kavita explains.
Rise & Shine (Classic Masala Chai)
“This is how most masala chai taste like with the right amount of spice mix and the black tea leaves. We like to prepare this for events and guests, so first-time chai drinkers can appreciate what true masala chai tastes like without being too overwhelmed.”
Wild & Free (Bold Masala Chai)
“We love this for cold, rainy days! We go stronger on the spices for this blend. It’s mostly preferred by chai lovers.” (Note: “The proportions of spices in Wild & Free are more than the Classic blend, making it stronger.”)
Kavita mentioned how having masala chai helps them relax and connect with guests and loved ones.
She also mentioned having snacks to go along with it. 😊
“Afternoon tea biscuits! Our personal favourites are from Tesco or Marks & Spencer,” she suggests. “Or just simple digestives will do. Indian samosas are great too. We love anything savoury, so we can enjoy the chai taste as well.”
Why not invite your friends and family over for a soothing cup – so that you can have an excuse to try, experiment and check out other masala chai and chai blends, and bond over your favourites and (new) knowledge of them? 😉 (You totally should.)
Sip for a cause
Here’s something that will help you treasure your HumaniTea experience so much more.
Through HumaniTea, Kavita and Scott have made it their mission to raise awareness of and contribute to social causes. With every HumaniTea packet sold, S$1 goes to the registered charity Ray of Hope for food security. They also organise food outreach programmes as well.
That’s worth a toast and a happy clinking of cups. ☕️
For more on HumaniTea, go to their Instagram.