In many parts of India there is a saying that loosely translated as: “spiced chai. the tea that eats like a meal” – and in certain parts of India it’s true. Traditional Indian chai is a heady mix of spice and tea. Chai recipes are handed down from generation to generation the way westerners pass on grandma’s apple pie recipe. The tea is traditionally brewed by boiling milk, adding good thick black tea, various spices and then boiling it again. The resulting mixture is thick, spicy and incredibly full-bodied. If your spoon stands up in the cup, it’s ready!
Ok, that might be a little over the top, but it’s no exaggeration to say that drinking great chai is almost a religious experience. As the brew reaches all the corners of your body it fills you with a warm glow that you will want to experience again and again. Luckily, if you’re in India, spicy fresh chai is available just about everywhere. Chai-sellers, known as Chai Wallahs, sell their concoctions at roadside stalls, train stations, anywhere you can think of. The tea is served in small clay cups known as chullarhs that are smashed on the ground once the tea is finished.
Our Master taster has sampled literally hundreds of chais served everywhere from Bombay to Darjeeling. Of all these, one stands out above all the rest. Just outside of the airport in Guwahati, Assam, there is a cab-stand tucked in behind a local shrine. While waiting for a plane to take him back to Calcutta many years ago, he accepted a cup of chai from the local Wallah. The cup, with its blend of pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and other spices quite literally blew his mind. It was this cup that inspired our version of Indian Spice Chai.
Hot tea brewing method: Bring filtered or freshly drawn cold water to a rolling boil. Place 1 slightly heaping teaspoon of loose tea, 1 tea bag or 1 Q3 single serve packet for each 7-9oz/200-260ml of fluid volume in the teapot. Pour the boiling water into the teapot. Cover and let steep for 5-10 minutes (for true „chayee chayee‟ steep at least 7 minutes). While the tea is brewing prepare your cup to receive the chai – put 2 teaspoons of sugar in the cup and add milk (about 20%) of the cup‟s volume. When the chai is ready – pour into your cup.
Iced tea brewing method (Pitcher): (to make 1 liter/quart): Place 6 slightly heaping teaspoons of loose tea, 6 tea bags or 6 Q3 single serve packets into a teapot or heat resistant pitcher. Using filtered or freshly drawn cold water, boil and pour 1¼ cups/315ml over the tea. Steep for 7 minutes. Quarter fill a serving pitcher with cold water. Pour the tea into your serving pitcher straining the tea or removing the tea bags. Add ice, milk and top-up the pitcher with cold water. Garnish and sweeten to taste. A rule of thumb when preparing fresh brewed iced tea is to increase the strength of hot tea since it will be poured over ice and diluted with cold water. (Note: Some luxury quality teas may turn cloudy when poured over ice. This is a sign of luxury quality and nothing to worry about!)
Iced tea brewing method (Individual Serving): Place 1 slightly heaping teaspoon of loose tea, 1 tea bag or 1 Q3 single serve packet into a teapot for each serving required. Using filtered or freshly drawn cold water, boil and pour 6-7oz/170-200ml per serving over the tea. Cover and let steep for 7 minutes. Add hot tea to a 12oz/375ml acrylic glass filled with ice, straining the
tea or removing the bags. Not all of the tea will fit, allowing for approximately an additional ½ serving. Add milk and sweeten to taste. A rule of thumb when preparing fresh brewed iced tea is to increase the strength of hot tea since it will be poured over ice and diluted. (Note: Some luxury quality teas may turn cloudy when poured over ice. This is a sign of luxury quality and nothing to worry about!)
ANTIOXIDANT BENEFIT: More antioxidants are extracted from tea (L. Camellia Sinesis), or rooibos (Asphalatus Linearis), the longer it is brewed….and the more tea or rooibos that is used, the greater the antioxidant benefit.
Ideal Brewing Temperature: 100ºC/212ºF. Minimum Brewing Temperature: 90ºC/194ºF.