Many tea merchants offer Chai, but their concoctions tend to be overpriced and under-spiced. And the tea bags, pre-ground spice mixtures, and concentrates found on supermarket shelves are woefully bland. A proper masala chai will have a pungent and rich brew.
A blend made with spices – ginger, green cardamom, anise, red peppercorn, clove, chilli and nutmeg. No sweeteners and artificial flavourings are added. The tea can be made with water in a small teapot or simmer in hot milk for a traditional Chai experience.
This Garam Masala Chai meets all the criteria for a good cup of chai. Like mulled wine, traditional chai blends have an aromatic presence, but by adding ‘heat’ through the introduction of chillies and red peppercorns and an additional dose of ginger, this tea offers an even greater benefit: to provide warmth and insulate the body.
The spices in this chai are powerful movers – literally. The first sensation of heat is recognizable a few minutes after drinking the tea, when it sits at the back of the throat. It has a slightly dry feel to it. After 10 minutes or so the sensation of heat is felt in the chest and then continues through the body. I am reminded of the first known reference to tea: Venerable (Chinese) tea sage, Lu Yu, was boiling tea when some leaves from a plant fell into his pot. He tasted them and found the tea was unexpectedly better than usual. But more than that, as he had a transparent stomach, he could see the good the leaves were doing. Just like Lu Yu, we can feel this tea travel through our bodies and offer goodness and warmth.
It packs a double punch compared to traditional chai blends.
Note: While milk is not required to savour this tea, a tiny dollop of honey softens any harshness or dryness from the spices and imparts a rounded taste and body that is pleasant to the palate.