I can recall almost in perfect detail the moment I had my first chai tea. My friend Kris had started working at Starbucks, and he made me a Chai Tea Latte. *You language peeps know how utterly redundant this name is* ** Really it’s like saying Tea Tea Milk.** ***It’s ok to giggle about teetee milk.***
I was instantly hooked. To this day, fifteen years later it’s still my go-to drink when I’m at Starbucks.
I do however prefer it much more traditionally, and when I’m at home, I feel that with the strong flavors of this tea it’s best to hold back on the sweeteners.
Most chai tea that we drink is black tea. It comes prepackaged, and all you need to do is drop a tea bag into your mug and enjoy the aromatics.
Authentic chai tea is called Masala Chai. It can be brewed directly into the milk. Which if you read my last blog, you know how crazy that is to me. But in this case, it’s a true experience to have Masala Chai.Interestingly, there is no fixed recipe for Chai. It’s agreed upon, by the tea gods, that a good chai should have milk, sugar, cardamom, and ginger. Plus strong black tea. Unless you’re enjoying Kashmiri Chai, then it’s gunpowder tea. Which is a tea we will visit on another day.
In India, the spice combo used is called Karha. The Karha may include Tea Leaves, Allspice, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger Root, Honey, Nutmeg, Peppercorn, Star Anise, Vanilla and other spices. *That bit was taken from Wikipedia.*
Traditionally in India, water buffalo milk is used to make this beverage. (I would like to try it this way.) Places in India called Chai Wallahs will have their own version, karha blends that are old family recipes. This is a very cool thing because at home you can try your hand at your own blend. I enjoy more cinnamon to clove and almost no vanilla. Westerners use allspice in place of some spices that aren’t as available.
When you get your Tea Tea Latte at Starbucks, you should ask for a shot of cinnamon. It’s delightful.
The tea that I am currently enjoying is English Tea Shop brand grown organically and certified fair trade.
I like my black teas to be brewed to almost the point of a roiling boil or 100 degrees F. ( 37 C for the rest of the universe.)
I steep it for five minutes. Sometimes a little longer, I enjoy this style of tea to be very strong, but not overly long. You don’t want to release the bitter flavor of the tannins. This tea in addition to black tea also had cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, and orange peel. I don’t taste the orange in this at all. It has a lesser percentage of some of the other traditional karha as well. I added more cinnamon because I love it and it’s my safe word. *No really it is 😉 *
Usually, I use cream when I make chai tea because it’s thicker. I also include honey as a sweetener. However, this time I used coconut milk. It’s completely baffling that I haven’t thought to try this before. It was coconut milk coffee creamer. (I know. I feel your judgment…) It worked wonderfully. The creamer was thicker, so I still achieved the right umami. *I hate this word and used it to amuse myself, but it’s the closest I can get to the right thing. Mouthfeel would be another word, which I don’t like either.* I used no other sweetener because none of was needed.
Overall, I used too much creamer, but it was ok. I enjoyed this combo and will probably try it again soon. Maybe with less creamer and a dash of fresh ginger. I will definitely enjoy playing with it.
The whole cuppa was enjoyed with some hazelnut milk chocolate frogs and a book that I am reading for my next book review. I highly recommend this brand of tea.
You can get some here. This is the splendid set that I have!! I love it! You can find it at Cost World Market as well as Amazon.
This is the Chai all by it’s lonesome.