Indian chai preferences
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I bought some Chai Guarana from Davids Tea: 'Indian black tea, guarana, maté, cinnamon, ginger, anise.' I brewed it the way the shop recommends it (1.5 tsps per cup for 4-6 minutes) but found it too weak. So I tried brewing it longer; still too weak. I was expecting more of a bite from the spices. Maybe I'll try brewing it with more tea next time, but 1.5 tsps already seems like a lot.
So, not a great chai experience. I thought I'd better come to you guys for advice. What kinds of Indian chais do you like and how do you like to brew it? And do you add the milk after brewing, steep it in the milk or don't use milk at all?
I don't usually buy chai for myself so I don't really have any helpful advice. I just wanted to say that even though you say it's weak, that really sounds like a tea I would LOVE to try. I like mate in teas. I usually add the milk after brewing...with only enough sugar to bring out the flavor.
An Indian friend made tea for me by adding the leaves to cold water in a saucepan and letting it heat to a rolling boil for a couple of minutes and then it was required to have milk added before drinking. A very different tea experience.
I don't buy a mix. My fiance is Indian and his mom taught me her method for chai, which she learned from her father. I prefer to make it differently, so I'll give you both methods.
Put a slice of ginger (about 1/4 inch thick), two or three green cardamom pods (popped open), black tea (2-3 bags), and equal parts milk and water into a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil. The tea is finished when it's a creamy caramel color - she usually cooks it about 10 minutes. Strain into cups and add sugar to taste.
Put ginger slice, cardamom pods, and cinnamon (3-inch stick or about a teaspoon ground) in water; bring to a boil. Remove from heat and steep tea (1 bag or 1 tsp per cup of water) to desired strength (I prefer about 4 minutes). Strain into cups; add sugar and milk to taste.
The best chai in India is from street carts or small teashops, generally served in very pedestrian thick white china cups, often chipped : ) You can buy it by the half cup if you don't have the cash for a full cup! Generally a huge saucepan with a milk-water mixture, ginger, spices, sugar and tea leaves (low quality, bulk tea that is mostly Assam dust) is kept on a steady rolling boil, replenished from time to time as cups are poured. I have never understood why the tea does not taste bitter. It develops a very distinctive tannin after taste, which I have found impossible to reproduce here in the US even with a very long boil. I have come to the conclusion that the answer lies in the type of milk that is used. A lot of the milk used in my part of India (the west) is actually from water buffalo, and not cow. Buffalo milk has a higher fat content and a different taste, it is also whiter in colour, than cow milk. In some parts of India, spice shops sell a tea spice mixture - proprietary combination of spices, and people develop strong feelings about their favourite brand. You can find some tea spice mixtures here in Indian grocery stores if you want to experiment with creating an authentic chai.
Thank you, SRedRose, for the Chai tea recipe! I am going to try these. Can't wait!
I like a mix from Teavana of 50% Samurai Chai and 50% White Avurvedic Chai good hot or cold, with or without milk. Yummy!
I've been making it iced lately. I double everything but the liquid, cool the mixture, and poor it over ice in a tall glass.
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