Karha made from tulsi, ginger, turmeric, and clove

Questions, Answered - Real Chai

Questions, Answered - Real Chai.

We get a lot of questions about real Chai. Let's face it: good Chai is so rare that the curiosity makes sense. These days, it can be hard to get the facts on what it's all about, so today, we're demystifying the art and science of authentic Chai itself.

Here's are your most frequent questions and their answers, from the founders of Hanuman Chai.

What is the definition of Chai? Is it just tea?

Masala Chai is spiced tea. It's traditionally spices and black tea brewed together, with milk and sweetener added.

How did Chai go from the sages to where it is now?

That's over 6000 years of history! The word Chai didn't come about until recently, but the heart of Chai is the blend of spices, and that is where the story begins. The Karha, or spice brew (sometimes spelled "Kadha"), was made seasonally for specific purposes by the sages according to regional availability of herbs, spices, sweeteners, and milks. Only the highest quality of ingredients was used, because the sages understood that a pure mind comes from a clean body - inside and out.

The sages were the wise gurus, and their advice was often sought in court. The warriors began to drink Karha, using the sages' knowledge of Ayurveda, or the study of spices and herbs, to make energetic, potent serums of power.

Over time, Karha was brought home into families and passed down through generations, where the proportions and procedures were perfected for each ailment or purpose. Traditional families retained the knowledge of how to carefully balance herbs, ground and heated with exacting specifications. The mark of real Karha remained its freshness and specificity; stale, generic spice mixtures carried no value.

Eventually, when the British brought the tea trade to India roughly 200 years ago, Karha and Tea were united, and with a bit of milk and sweetener, Chai arose.

You call Hanuman Chai the only real Chai. Why?

Real Chai has the same signature as real Karha. Fresh and specific. We don't use a pre-mixed spice mixture. We blend it by hand. We don't use spices that have been sitting on shelves for months. Everything is fresh, fresh-ground, and fresh-pressed. We don't base things only off of taste. We use knowledge and tradition to inform each of our blends. We use only organic and fair trade ingredients, making Chai the way it was meant to be.

I drink Chai to clear my head. Is that the right reason to drink Chai? 

Hanuman Chai is a drink of focus, performance, and refreshment. Drink it to relax, to power up, to prepare, or to celebrate. Each of our blends has a different effect; a different purpose.

In India, Chai is a social drink. It's the drink around which people bond and tease and joke and play. Or scold and discipline. It's the drink around which problems are solved and celebrations are born. We're bringing the culture of Chai to you in a drink of personal clarity and community bonding.

There's a reason we like our two tag lines: Anything is Possible, and Bring out the Best in You. The right reason to drink Hanuman Chai is to find courage, whether in yourself, or through your community. Be what you've always wanted to be; do what you've always dreamed of doing. Drink Hanuman Chai, and follow your passions. Let it remind you to bring out the best in you.
You have a lot of varieties. Which one should I try?

We blend our Chai by the season, based on Ayurveda, the ancient study of herbs and spices. What you consume in the summer has to be different than what you consume in the winter - if you want to warm up, what you drink has to be fundamentally different than if you want to cool off. Read more about our seasonal blends and Ayurveda.

On top of that, there's our ready-to-drink Chai bottles. The spices are blended specially to give you what you need to keep moving the world. No creepy additives, no powders. Just a very careful blend of our all-organic, fresh spices, balanced by hand, along with our organic black tea and just a bit of organic cane sugar. With that, we blend in either Organic Almond Milk (GMO-free! No preservatives added!), or Organic Whole Milk (GMO-free! No artifical growth hormones!), and bottle it with the biggest ingredient: the strength and spirit of Hanuman.

But I typically feel cold. Even though it's summer, I want something spicy that'll heat me up.

The right blend for you depends on you. If you're always cold, go for our warming blend. If you're hot, pick up a cooling blend. You can also take our blend quiz to help you choose.

What makes the seasonal blends different? 

Our different blends are tailored to the season, using spices that are chosen for their qualities. On top of that, we use knowledge passed down and refined through over 5 generations to develop highly nuanced properties of the spices we use. Spices need to be treated with care - different grinds (coarse, fine, in between), different states (dried and powdered, ground, blended, cut), different heating temperatures, different heating methods - all of these things affect the potency and qualities of spices. And each spice is different.

So for different seasonal blends, you change the way you make the Chai. Are the spices the same?

Not quite. The spices change too. Take a look at our ingredients:

What does remain the same is that EVERYTHING is organic and fresh. No GMOs or preservatives, ever!
Invigorating Blend: Tulsi, Ginger, Turmeric, Cardamom, Saffron, Nutmeg, Amla, Other Spices. Fair-trade and Organic Black Tea.

Cooling Blend: Cardamom, Tulsi, Ginger, Turmeric, Saffron, Amla, Other Spices. Fair-trade and Organic Black Tea.

Energizing Blend: Turmeric, Ginger, Tulsi, Cardamom, Saffron, Javitri, Amla, Other Spices. Fair-trade and Organic Black Tea.

Warming Blend: Saffron, Ginger, Cardamom, Turmeric, Tulsi, Javitri, Nutmeg, Amla, Other Spices. Fair-trade and Organic Black Tea.

Hanuman Chai is unsweetened and milk free, but you don't discourage adding some. What is the traditional milk and sweetener combination?

The milk sweetener has always depended on the drinker. The tradition goes back to the era of sages living in the harsh climates of India. Each sage would mix a blend that would fit with his needs and regional availablity. Cane sugar, honey, cane juice, berries; goat milk, cow milk, and later soy and almond - all of these things have different reactions in the body, and traditional Chai makes the choice a matter of personal knowledge and preference.

How is Hanuman Chai different than other Chais?

We make our own Karha. Want to know how some companies make Chai? Go to your nearest Indian store, buy a pre-packaged Chai masala with no printed expiration date, and add fresh ginger and cloves. Ask yourself what easy Chai tastes like.

Then brew yourself a cup of Hanuman Chai, and taste the difference. It tastes balanced, fresh, and clean. It tastes better because it is better. Quality does matter.

Nobody makes Chai like we do. Nobody knows passion, energy and spirit like Hanuman.

Who's making Karha? Nobody is making Karha like we are.

What is Karha?

Karha is the ancient core of chai. Long before the British came to India (bringing the tea trade along with them), karha was an Ayurvedic drink of the sages. It was passed down from the gurus to warriors to families as a drink of focus and meditation. It was a remedy for ailments and a fuel for incredible acts of mind and body. It was blended with precision, with different blends and formulas for each purpose. With only spices brewed in water (sometimes with some added milk and sweetener), it was a non-caffeinated drink of power.

Is there a difference between generic Chai Masala and Karha?

Yes. Ask yourself what the difference is between microwave mac-n-cheese and homemade pasta noodles, topped with homemade cheese and butter. Chai Masala is a generic blend of spices mixed for taste and indiscriminate use. It can sit on the shelf for years and could likely withstand nuclear armageddon - not exactly something you'd want to eat. Real Karha, on the other hand, is blended fresh, with the best ingredients, for a specific purpose. Our Karha is blended for focus and performance, along with warmth, cooling, and more depending on the season. We keep it the way it was meant to be, so you become the best that you can be.

Do people still drink Karha in India?

The infatuation with everything "new" has been leading to the rejection of ancient traditions over the years. Especially among the last two generations in India, the art of making real Chai, based on the intimate knowledge of spices, is a fading one. Still, in culturally rich homes, Karha remains as integral as it was years ago.

When I was growing up, children weren't allowed caffeine, but because Chai Time was an integral part of social culture, they would drink Karha, the spice blend of Chai, since there's no tea in it. On top of the social aspect, specific Karhas were made by the mothers and grandmothers to remedy ailments. If you got sick one day, you'd drink a potent Karha, and maybe even the next morning, you'd be all set. Depending on the malady, there was a different Karha. To help encourage the immune system, to calm a fever, even for women experiencing the flashes of menopause.

On top of all that, if was late at night and you didn't want to stay up too late, Karha was the way to still enjoy the social aspect of Chai Time bonding without the effects of caffeine. Karha was very much at the center of it - it is, after all, the core of Chai.

Why did you name it Hanuman Chai? Who is Hanuman?

Hanuman is the god of strength, courage, perseverance, and devotion. He is the doer, the one who takes action to correct things that are wrong. The story is that when he was young, as a mischievous child, he got hungry one day and swallowed the sun. He was then cursed: he would be allowed to keep his tremendous strength, but because of his childish nature, he would only be able to use it when others were in need. That day, Hanuman was given a purpose: to use his strength for the good of others. Each of us is Hanuman. We have incredible strength. We must all find our purpose in order to unlock our strength.
Read more about Hanuman here.

Hanuman Chai is a drink of power, focus, and purpose. Think about your passions - whatever it is that gives you joy. True, unbridled joy. Think about your challenges. Think about your dreams. Drink Hanuman Chai to help prepare your mind, to power you towards your goals, and to rejoice, every time you succeed.

Have more questions? Send us an email: hanumanchai@gmail.com.
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