Tuesday, May 13, 2008


(picture from World Hum)


Now everybody that knows me knows that I'm not as big a fan of black tea as I am green. I love my green tea, especially my J Greens, but there are some black teas I can not only tolerate and stomach, but that I actually like. There are also some recipes for chai that include black tea of course, that I really like.

I want to share with you some of my favorite black teas, that I'd like for you to try and a recipe for traditional chai (using all of those beautiful spices pictured above). I also have a recommendation for a store-bought chai that I tried this weekend, and surprisingly, for store-bought, it was really good! It will certainly do in a pinch or for unexpected guests.

We'll start backwards. Celestial Seasonings (http://celestialseasonings.elsstore.com/)makes that pretty good, store-bought chai in a canister that I was talking about. Click on their website link here and then click on the chai tab on the left. All of the ones they have listed look really great, but the one I tried was the chai with sweet coconut. It had something else in the title on the can that I saw this weekend, and it wasn't decaf like the one listed on their website, but you guys, this was impressive. Did you know that C.S. sells coffee now too? Check it out.

Now I've got a chai recipe if you're adventuresome and brave, and you like to make your own stuff. I want to try and make one similar to the one I tasted this weekend, except with fresh spices and to my own taste. Anyway, that's later. Here's what I've got for you (BTW, you can substitute vanilla soy or rice milk in place of half-n-half (if you can't handle milk products)):

Best Traditional Indian Tea---FROM SCRATCH
I read the Indian Tea recipes on your Chai Recipes page. Quite interestingly, most of these recipes are for "busy" people. Even from the well known cook expert.
I do not want to boast, but try the following traditional recipe, which is used by hundreds of thousands of Indian housewives, who have lots of time to prepare tea. Remember, good food, especially indian food, is never cooked in hurry. Try it, and if you do not like it, do not post on the net.
First, all of these ingredient should be fresh (or as fresh as possible). You can get all these spices in Indian-american grocerry stores.
1. Brooke Bond Red label, Mamri, or Tajmahal Black tea ( You don't have to use one of these labels of Indian tea; you can use a great black tea of your choice. It just needs to be a quality Assam or Darjeeling--Note here mine) [DO NOT USE GREEN OR LEAF TEA, IT WILL RUIN THE TASTE].

2. Cloves, cinamon stick (good quality), fresh ginger (powder or prepackaged cannot be substituted), whole black pepper, cardomon pods.
3. Optional items: White khas-khas (Indian name of a spice, which is round dried seeds); and soanph (green dried, not roasted)
4. Half-and-Half milk. No other milk can be substituted (if you really want the taste of real chai) (Remember, if you can't take milk, you can use a soy or rice product--note here mine)
In a clean deep dish container, put 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup milk (Half-and-Half), 1 full teaspoon black tea and spices as follows.
1 pod cardomon, 2 pea size fresh ginger (mulched),1-2 big size whole black pepper, 1/8 to 1/6 cinnemon stick
On a hard piece of paper, crush all of them together. Immediately put this mix in dish with water and milk. Keep them on heater plate or gas range for about 15 minutes, keep stirring continuously. Add sugar to your taste. Drain on strainer and serve in a cup.
The idea is to burn water from the tea while mixing the spices into the leftover tea. You may have to experiment with the quantity of water and milk to the final quantity of tea. In my experience, 2:1 ratio works better, i.e. I use 2 cups of (milk + water) for making one cup of chai. 1 cup of water is burned in the process. This provides smooth taste of chai.
Please note: Chai making can be fun, but you cannot cut time. I have always made the best chais and never thought of time. Belive me it is time well spent.
Send me your comments. Vijay

My recommendations for black tea, if you've gotta have it like some do:

P.G. Tips Special Blend (P.G.'s are kind of the traditional English teas)
Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold
Taylors of Harrogate Afternoon Darjeeling
Barry's Tea Classic Blend

(Of course these are ones that can be easily found in the U.S. There are others, but they must be ordered and shipped or you've actually got to know someone in the country of origin or go there yourself)

I've discovered that ones like P.G. Tips and Typhoo do well with personal home blending with dried herbs and/or botanicals. My girls blend P.G. Tips or a great Darjeeling with dried fruit teas or floral botanicals that are aromatic and flavorful.

Google a British tea website to find the nearest retailer for your English or Indian black teas. Try your hand at a traditional chai and let me know how it turned out. Have a great Tuesday and remember, it's no good without tea!


Jennifer in OR said...

Mmmm, sounds lovely! I love green teas the best, too. But this chai would be a wonderful drink, I can tell!

Peculiar said...

I think it will be good too. A real, authentic chai...how can it be bad? If you or anyone tries it, let me know. Thanks for stopping by.