I’m going to be the chai whistle blower by saying that one of Australia’s most popular café and supermarket ‘chai’ brands has the following ingredients (in order from most to least).
Sugar, glucose syrup solids, vegetable oil, maltodextrin, flavours, instant tea (4%), Sodium Caseinate, (340, 451, 452, 471, 481) soy lecithin, salt, 551.
Consumers purchase this Chai thinking they are ordering a delicious traditional Indian spiced tea, renowned for hundreds of years for its health benefits. Instead they are being served a drink which, well, who really knows what it’s going to do to your health. There is not a single ingredient on the list that would have existed 1000 years ago (assuming the salt is NaCl and not Himalayan Sea Salt) And in fact the first three ingredients have already been proven by science to have serious negative impacts on health (processed sugar, vegetable oils, maltodextrin)
Until we really got into the world of chai, we didn’t realise just how much dodgy chai was out there. It’s certainly a lucky dip when you order your chai at a café . Apart from the above-mentioned brand, you might get a sugary chai syrup (sugar and flavours), a powder (most are similar versions of the above example), a loose leaf tea and powdered spices, or the real deal (long leaf tea, whole spices and ginger). The easiest way to spot it is to check your ingredients list before buying or ask at a café what is in the chai.
I hate to put down another product but these dodgy chai’s should be called something else like ‘SNAF’ (sugary numbers and flavours). They shouldn’t be called chai anymore than banana ‘flavoured’ syrup be called a ‘banana smoothie’. So next time you order chai cast an eagle eye over the ingredients list or you might get served a snaf latte!
Founder of The Fresh Chai Co. & Snaf snob