It’s time to visit a new country on my virtual tea tasting tour of the world. So far all of the teas I have written about, whether black, green, or the still mysterious Pu Erh, have been from China. Now it’s time to travel to India and to sample some Chai.
Chai, as I’m sure most people know, simply means ‘tea’ in Hindi, originating from the Chinese name, Cha. Masala translates to ‘spiced’ so therefore Masala Chai simply means ‘spiced tea’. Straight forward enough right? The recipe differs from each street vendor and household, but will almost always include cinnamon, ginger and cardamom, combined with a strong black tea.
On the streets of India, the spectacle of the Chai being served up is almost as important as the taste, with the brew being expertly tossed from cup to cup without a drop wasted. In my kitchen however it was a much more reserved affair involving a kettle and some loose Masala Chai courtesy of Adagio Teas.
As the tea steeped, the scent that filled the room was incredible. To me it perfectly encapsulated wintertime; gingerbread and mulled wine (minus the wine) in a heady combination that suggested warmth and invigoration. I let the Ceylon and spice blend infuse for about five minutes and settled down for some FA cup fourth round action.
Whilst Chelsea were making a mockery of the MK Dons’ defence, I was experiencing tea like never before. The spiciness of the cloves and ginger, combined with the sweet, perfumed cardamom created an intense flavour which was a million miles from the delicate teas I had tried from China. It was almost too much, although this may have been due to me being a Chai noob, or from steeping the tea for too long for my unsuspecting palate to handle.
Despite this, I found the whole experience highly enjoyable. It was a warming and revitalising cuppa which, for me, was a perfect choice for a wintry day. Drinking this through a Indian Summer’s day though would be a different matter though I think!
I’ve got a few more Chais to try, and I must say that I’m definitely looking forward to them now.
Are you a big Chai lover? Do you have any recommendations for what I should try next? Please leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you.