India is a chai-loving nation. Here, it goes beyond being a refreshing beverage and is in fact deep rooted in our culture, holding a very special place in our hearts. Chai infused with light spices simmering on the stove with its flavourful whiff filling the air, pretty much paints the picture of a typical Indian household in the morning. Indian tea or chai has a lot of variations in ingredients as you go from one region to another, but the preparation remains the same. If you are looking out to experiment with your chai at home, here are some interesting varieties to try out.

Masala Chai

Globally, Indian chai is associated with masala chai. The simple milk and tea combination is infused with a burst of spices that awakens your senses and gives you a truly refreshing experience. Once the tea and water is simmering, a masala blend of cardamom, clove, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg is added to the tea. Add in the milk and sugar/jaggery and relish every sip. You can even grind the spices and make your own homemade masala that you can pinch in every time or use a store bought one to save time.

Kashmiri Kahwa

Originated in the heavenly valleys of Kashmir, the Kahwa is an exotic chai that is made of rich flavours. Just like every other Kashmiri beverage, this one too looks quite complex to make but actually is quite simple. Start by adding in saffron, cinnamon, cloves, dried rose petals and cardamom to water and boil it. Then add in green tea leaves and let it seep to make it as strong as you like. Top it with almond silvers and some honey. This luxurious chai is best enjoyed on winter day. But it tastes so good, you can give you regular chai a break and enjoy a Kahwa instead in every season.

Elaichi Chai

The good old elaichi or cardamom chai is one of the most popular variation in Indian households. While tea seeps into boiling water, add in a few pods or powdered cardamom and let the flavour spread. Add in milk and boil till you get the perfect elaichi chai that we all are so fond of. Comforting and pleasant, cardamom enriches your regular chai and makes it a comforting beverage that is often served to guests who come home.

Sulaimani Chaaya

The amber coloured Sulaimani chaaya is Kerala’s sweet secret that was brought to the land by Arab traders centuries ago. Today, it’s an integral part of the day to day rhythm of life in Malabar. A rich blend of tea leaves, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves, brewed in water till it turns a beautiful sunset hue, gives you the ambrosial sweet and sour Sulaimani. Squeeze in a generous amount of lemon for the final touch. This variation of tea doesn't include milk which makes it extra flavourful, strong and rejuvenating. In ancient folklore, Sulaimani is said to be the muse of many poets, writers and artists, who often describe it as a soulful drink that soothes and comforts.

Adrak Chai

Adrak chai is a hot favourite among tea lovers and rightly so since its flavour instantly takes away your stress after a long tiring day. Add in crushed ginger and let its juice mix with tea water and bring to boil. You can add in milk as per your preference and get ready to treat yourself to a soothing adrak chai that is also considered to be an elixir that takes away cold, cough and sinus related issues.

Bombay Cutting Chai

More than the beverage, it’s nostalgia that makes cutting chai special. The world-famous tea style that originated in the streets and corners of Bombay is now one of the most sought-after variations by tea lovers. The secret is the minimal amount of milk and the classic blend of ginger and cardomom added to boiling tea water, making it really strong and dense. The name cutting chai is derived from the fact that it is served only as half in a special glass. If you miss being at the stalls and drinking it, you can always make it at home and relish it with hot bhajiyas or a pack of Parle G biscuits.

Tulsi Chai

Tulsi or holy basil is an ancient herb that is grown in almost every Indian home. Known for its therapeutic properties, it also loaded with antioxidants to keep your health in check. And when added to chai, it relieves you of any respiratory illnesses, clears your cough and cold and also works as an amazing expectorant. Made simply by boiling tea and tulsi leaves, with a dash of ginger for an extra effect- all you need to boost your immunity and keep illnesses away.