23 November 2010

Chai Time

*photo found HERE, which, incidentally, is a fabulous article on chai. Check it out!

I learned today that "chai tea" is redundant. Chai means "tea" in Hindi. Sounds so much more exotic than plain, old "tea", doesn't it?

I am a tea lover. A tea drinker extraordinaire! Chai and I, however, never got along until recently. I wanted to like chai. I drank it hot, cold, in a frappucino, in a smoothie. I tried it with milk and with hot water. I just could NOT like it. Then, as I was preparing to go to India, my friend said, "Oh, and chai is everywhere! You'll love it!" "One problem," I admitted. "I hate chai."

Until I had it.
In India.
Simmered over a gas stove, in milk.

Two words: Yum. O.

I've grown to like chai, but not the American version of the drink. Masala chai, which literally means "spiced tea", has grown on me and I've found even a bagged version that I like. But nothing takes the place of the "real" deal.

True story: I'd planned to post on chai today. I checked my email and one of my weekly emails about tea and coffee had an article link on (you guessed it) chai. Serendipitous I say!

And here it is! Masala Chai 101. It's got so many chai recipes, you'll be swimming by the time you've brewed and tried them all. I sifted through them, however, and found the one that (to me) seems the most authentic. This is the one I plan to try at home (just as soon as I can wrangle me up some cardamom pods).

*This chai recipe was found on's site under the heading "How to Make Masala Chai" by Lindsey Goodwin (their tea and coffee guru).

•2 cups milk
•2 cups water
•4 whole cloves
•2 crushed green cardamom pods
•2 crushed peppercorns
•1 cinnamon stick
•1 grape-sized piece peeled, chopped ginger
•2 tbsp. sugar
•2 tbsp. black tealeaves (preferably Assam)

Combine your milk, water and spices in a medium saucepan.

Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add sugar and tealeaves. Stir, and then simmer for 5 minutes.

Strain into glasses or mugs and serve.

(This recipe makes a bout 4 cups of masala chai.)

For all you celebrating Thanksgiving this week, why not try this as an alternative to the traditional apple cider or coffee after the turkey? Or, if you're like me and decorate for Christmas the weekend after Thanksgiving, why not have a pot of this simmering while the Christmas carols play and the twinkle lights get untangled. You know, by someone else. YOU have to watch that simmering milk ;)


(For those of you not up to simmering milk, or you don't feel you have the time to make the chai via stove top, The Republic of Tea has a wonderful chai concentrate that you can add to warm milk. This was the ONLY chai I liked before I learned to make it the Indian way.)


The Golden Eagle said...

When drinks and food come from their original countries, it often tastes better . . . for some reason.

Glad you found chai that you liked. :)

Betsy said...

chai means tea? Who knew?! I always associate it with the spiciness.

Brian Miller said... me some chai...was turned onto it a couple years ago...

deb said...

you know I've never it tried it, Jen.

Regina said...

I drink a tea by lipton that is called Spiced Chai. I love it.

Tabitha Bird said...

Yep, I love chia tea. But then I am Australian. It would practically be unaustralian not to have tried tea.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

And that is some serious chai recipe. I am not sure I would be able to have it- much prefer my chai made the English way.

Random fact- do you know it is called either chai or tea (or some variant) in every single language? I think it is the only word that has only two names.

Rachel {Inspiration in Italy} said...

haha this is so interesting! I can imagine that chai in the states is so different than in India. There are actually a lot of drinks and foods that my husband and I THOUGHT we didn't like until we tried them here in Italy. Funny how that works...


Sandra said...

It's always amused me people would order chai tea but if you don't know, you don't know. I adore chai, any way it's fixed; all those spices knocking around in the cup suit my taste buds just dandy.