Masala Chai – Welcome to Flavour Country

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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.

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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.

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10 Comments Add yours

  1. I love the stuff, me!

    I make mine from a Ceylon black tea starting point, and then allow cinnamon, cloves, fresh ginger, and cardamom to infuse in some gently simmering water before bringing it up the boil and using it to steep the tea.

    Works great with curries, really makes your taste buds pop.

    I drink a lot of it around Christmas, too – it’s a good replacement for Swedish mulled wine due to the spices, which are quite similar…

    Like

    1. Rory says:

      I’ve never thought about making it at home, although I think I have quite a few of those ingredients at home so I might have to give it a go!
      I can imagine it working well with a curry actually, I’ll put it on the to do list.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The only real trick is not to boil all the oxygen out of the water. Keep things at a low simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the water has taken on a nice colour.

        Good luck!

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  2. The Queen of Chai says:

    I really enjoyed reading your post, especially since I love chai 🙂 You described the aroma of masala chai perfectly. May be you can try some with an Assam black tea as the base and see what you think about it.

    Like

  3. chesserstea says:

    I love chai too. It’s difficult to find a good one though.

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    1. Rory says:

      That’s true! I suppose everyone’s tastes are slightly different though so it’s nearly impossible to find the right combination of spices.
      Personally I’d prefer ones that were slightly less gingery.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. chesserstea says:

        I keep finding ones that only have cardamom, and the tea itself isn’t strong enough.

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      2. Rory says:

        Oh really? Maybe you’ll have to experiment and make your own!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Susy says:

    Chai tea is the tea of choice in our house, the spicer the better!

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    1. Rory says:

      I’m sure you’d love this one from Adagio then! I’m planning on making my own from scratch soon to see how different it would be.

      Like

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