The word Chai is derived from the Persian word for tea, Chay, which itself is derived from Chinese Chao (Cantonese to be exact - the English word Tea originates from a different Chinese dialect Tee!). The British started large scale tea cultivation in India in the 17th century to bypass the Chinese monopoly.
Even then, local tea consumption was very low and much of the product was exported to England and other British colonies. To combat this, in the 19th century, the Indian Tea Association encouraged tea breaks at factories and mines.
Tea was first introduced in classic English style with milk and sugar, but slowly evolved into chai as we know it now. Modern Masala Chai is almost equal parts milk and water, boiled with black tea and spices, instead of a traditional infusion.
Thirsty for some chai? You can check out our various blends here: