This loose chai masala highlights a special ingredient: tulsi, which is holy basil. Dried tulsi has a sharp, vegetal flavor; a bit spicy, a tad bitter. It has an elusive, floral, spicy bouquet. This chai masala has assam, it is not caffeine free as I’d originally thought, and includes the usual masala suspects. I purchased it from a tea shop that sells loose tea in large canisters, without the ingredients listed, just the name of the tea, which is then scooped into little brown paper bags. Here is a link to the ingredients so that you’ll know just what is going on in this tea:
When you open the bag, you smell the mixed spices, the sweet assam and the tulsi, which has the appearance of dark green bits. The masala is beautifully balanced: no flavor jumps out and demands all the attention, and that’s so important to me in a chai masala. I used one teaspoon to one cup of water, boiling, in a teapot, and steeped for 3 minutes. The brewing tea had such a lovely fragrance: the tea, spices and tulsi created a unique scent. The result was a light, spicy and sweet cup of tea. I added a drop of pure maple syrup; unorthodox, I know, but it complemented the sweetness of the tea and mellowed the aromatic tulsi. This is definitely a unique chai masala for me, and I’m so glad I added it to my cupboard. Will I ever go to India? I close my eyes and sip this tea and imagine it! Next time I will make this on the stovetop, properly!