Post # 345 Chai Goodness

February 27, 2015 at 10:57 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 345 Chai Goodness

I’m not a fan of hot drinks.  I approve of hot drinks, and drink them when I’m going to get some benefit from them.  I seldom ever drink them just for pleasure.  But recently, chai tea has come to my attention several times so I decided to take a look at it.

First, I was watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory and the lead character wanted to make chai tea but didn’t have all the ingredients so he opted for English Breakfast tea cuz it was “close enough.”  That set the wheels spinning since I had always assumed that chai tea was just a simple blend in a tea bag.  Then, I got into a conversation with a friend about hot toddies based on a recent blog post.  He talked about chai tea being a great base for alcohol.  Then, just within the past couple of days, I was talking with another friend online and she mentioned chai tea latte.  I nearly did our friendship in when I made the comment “Know what to drink after finishing your tai chi?  Chai Tea!”

But it set me to wondering about chai tea.  What exactly was it?

Chai Tea seems a bit of a redundant name since chai means tea in many Eurasian languages.  What is started out to be was a medicinal blend of herbs and spices that grew to be pretty tasty.  It was an alternative hot drink to tea, which was quite expensive in its early days.  Once black tea production was made cost effective and the price driven down, it was added to the blend.  It was still expensive though, so milk and sweeteners were added to keep the price down.

There is no real recipe for the blend of spices and herbs used.  It was developed in India, and like curry recipes, chai recipes are as individual as the families who create them.  That’s one of my favorite aspects of world cooking.  However, there is an accepted standard blend.  Traditionally, cardamom plays a dominant role in the flavor blend and ginger is a close second.  Various proportions of cinnamon, cloves, star anise, nutmeg, fennel, and peppercorn are also commonly accepted flavors.  When the brew became popular in Europe and the UK during the 1800s, allspice was also added to the mix.  When the spice blend is ready, it’s added to a strong tea, usually a black tea so the tea flavor isn’t overpowered.

Traditionally, whole spices and leaves are added to a blend of milk and water and simmered to the flavor potency the drinker prefers.  The mixture is strained and the beverage is served hot.  Recently, though, with newer automatic processes for brewing tea coming into play, individual cups can be made by grinding the tea, herbs, and spices to a powder and adding it to hot milk and water, leaving the sweetener to the drinker to add.  In the last decade or so, it has also been served cold over ice, and with whipped cream as a decoration.  It’s been added to coffee to form a latte and also been drunk without the tea component at all.

ChaiTea 01

I wasn’t wrong in my tea bag impression, either.  Most of the major tea companies make a tea bag variety of chai.  I can’t vouch for the flavors, but it’s worth the cost to find out if you like them.

However, if you want to try to create your own chai tea, just remember that it’s simply spiced tea and mix some spices and herbs you like with your favorite tea and see what happens.

To get you started, here’s what Food.com says is a good approximation of Starbuck’s Chai Tea blend.  It makes a lot.

  1. Bring water and milk to a boil. Add other ingredients; return to boil. Turn off.
  2. heat and let steep for 3-5 minutes. Remove tea bags then filter through fine strainer. Good hot or cold.
  3. This can be stored in the refrigerator for later use.

Let me know how this turns out, and as always

Enjoy

 

 

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