Teas: Three types of chai tea (Aromatic Cardamom, Classic Masala and Mumbai Bazaar – see below for a list of spices in each chai)
Samples provided by: Chaiholics
My introduction to chai came almost 15 years ago when I was doing research near the Swahili Coast in Kenya. Chai was served throughout the day, and it was laden with masala spices and sugar. Slices of white bread or, if you were really lucky, mandazi (a lightly sweetened doughnut) were typically served with the chai. Since my Kenyan chai experience I have often daydreamed about going to India and sitting in a market or outside a busy cafe and drinking some milky, sweet, fiery chai out of vaguely clean cup while munching on a sweet breakfast bread. I realise that this a completely ridiculous vision (perhaps a little pith helmet colonial too) and in reality I would probably be sitting by a street in 47C temperatures breaking out in a heat rash with car and motorbike exhaust blowing in my face and being told by a server that either a) people don’t eat breakfast in India or b) they only serve extremely hot curries for breakfast. But, hey, let a boy dream his dreams and find out reality for himself.
When I opened the tins of tea from Chaiholics, it was just the thing to bring back great memories of sipping Kenyan chai and further fuelled my desire to get to India. The bold aroma of the tea made a powerful first impression, and the full-bodied tea is what I love in a chai but find it lacks in many western blends.
How to make chai (Chaiholics suggest this method, and I highly suggest it too):
– Two parts water
– One part milk
– One to two teaspoons of tea (two for me – I like it strong!)
– Sugar to taste
Place water and milk in a cooking pot and bring to a light boil. Add the tea and sugar and simmer for three to five minutes. Strain and serve.
Tea: Black CTC Assam tea with cardamom
– The dry leaf has a bold cardamom aroma
– The flavour of the infused chai is well balanced between the tea and the cardamom
– The liquor is warming and slightly spicy, and the flavour of the cardamom settles in the back of your throat providing a nice lingering aftertaste
Tea: Black CTC Assam tea with cardamom, ginger, black pepper and cinnamon
– The dry leaf has a strong ginger and black pepper aroma (I took a big whiff and the black pepper made me sneeze – definitely a good sign!)
– The body of the tea is spicy, but the cardamom and cinnamon round out the flavour and make it rich. The black pepper gives it a good bite and an aftertaste that grows hot in your mouth. It warms the throat and stomach
– I’m happy that Chaiholics didn’t leave out the black pepper – a real must, but often left out of western blends
Tea: Black CTC Assam tea with ginger and lemongrass
– The aroma of the dry leaf is dominated by the ginger
– With the ginger being so prominent in the dry leaf, I feared that the lemongrass might be lost in the infused tea, but it was not. The body of the chai has a strong lemongrass flavour, but it has a spicy gingery finish
My personal favourite is a real toss up between the Aromatic Cardamom and the Classic Masala. They are both rich and spicy teas that are very satisfying to drink. I found that the Mumbai Bazaar wasn’t my cup of tea. The flavours of the Mumbai Bazaar are strong and would really appeal to lemongrass and ginger lovers, but I like how the flavours of the other two teas seem more rounded and savoury