But, I Like Chai

Despite my last post, I've recently developed a taste for Chai. That's actually what started the train of thought that led me to write said post.

Some people have suggested to me that I can't be a tea purist and still drink chai. I argue that I can because Chai, when prepared properly is still 'tea' using my operational definition. In fact, "chai" or some variation is the word for tea a a number of Asian languages. What we call chai-tea is properly called "masala-chai," which means "spiced tea" in Hindi. Masala style is the traditional method of tea preparation in much of India and Pakistan.

The problem in the US is that most places don't prepare it properly. Rather than steeping the tea and spices in a blend of hot water and milk, they use a chai extract. It's a sort of tea/spice demiglas that they quirt into the hot water much like hazelnut syrup into a frilly coffee and then add foamed milk. This is where we get the "chai latte" popular at many chain coffee bars.

Personally I prefer it the original way. Try this recipie if you're interested.

Combine 1 flat teaspoon of loose-leaf darjeeling tea and a large pinch each of crushed cinnamon stick, crushed nutmeg, cardamom and two whole cloves in a large stainless steel tea ball or filter pouch.

Mix three parts water with one part whole milk and heat until just shy of boiling. Stir if need be to keep the milk from scalding.

With the water and milk still over heat, add the bag of tea and spices and let heat for 1-2 minutes.

Remove the mixture from heat and allow it to continue steeping for another 2-3 minutes.

Add sugar or gum syrup to taste.

There are hundreds of other styles so dig around on the internet to find the one that suits you.

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Tom Harper said...

I traveled through India and Pakistan a long time ago, so I got really used to chai. I also like the bastardized "chai" that's become trendy here. But as far as being ethnic or authentic in any way, it's to Indian chai what Taco Bell is to Mexico.

opit said...

Tea is something I drink around supper or later : coffee will tend to keep one awake. It's simple : boil the water,pour over the ball or bags, stir if in a hurry; or steep 6 minutes. Done.
Simple additions to tea are lemon, lime and/or honey.
Chai isn't really something I developed a taste for.My son - your age - is always trying new store blends of green tea and whatever is new.
But the Japanese really get carried away. Since tea just means infusion there are literally thousands of teas : and formal ceremony is involved enough I've seen a thick illustrated text on the topic.