Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Try the Chai!

By Kaitlin Koppenal

If you never had chai tea before, you’re in for a totally new and magnificent experience! From a new tea drinker’s point of view, chai tea has a lot to offer. Many major coffee shops offer their espresso added chai latte which is similar, but like a handbag, the knock off is not as nearly as good as the real thing.

“Chai” literally meaning tea in Hindi, along much of the other languages in South Asia, and is a spiced milky tea, also known as masala chai. This Indian tea traditionally takes a long period of time to prepare while it is brewed over an open flame. The fresh ingredients marinate together to create a great blend of black tea, spices, milk, and sugar. Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom and black pepper add the perfect combination of spices to an already delicious black tea.

The best types of teas to use for chai are strong black teas—such as Ceylon, Assam blends, or Darjeeling. Today, the once long process of making chai tea has already been done for you and made into a very practical and easy product to use. Like many other loose leaf teas, you infuse the tea with a mesh tea ball or a strainer. Chai, however, is best when let to steep for 8-10 minutes, longer than the normal tea. By adding the sugar, it allows the spiciness of the tea to emerge, yet it doesn’t make the tea too sweet.

Not only does chai tea have a fantastic spicy taste, but it also acts as a natural digestive aid, and it is full of antioxidants. It gives off a warming and soothing feeling to your body like no other. The spices seem to warm you up from the inside out. With today’s technology, many flavors are being added to the chai tea. A favorite of mine is vanilla chai.

For new drinkers, don’t be scared of loose tea. Once you have the infuser or strainer, it’s a piece of cake! Indian spice chai tea is one of my favorite loose leaf chai teas. However, if you are hesitant of using the loose leaf tea, you can always opt for the delicious tea already packaged. Twinings makes a great French vanilla chai tea which is already in a tea bag for you to use!


lex said...

i love the chai tea! just got back from a trip to india, where they served mugs of the stuff on the beach, for around 20 rupees. bliss. it does take ages to brew though