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Finally – this is the perfect Chai!

I’ve been struggling with finding (and preparing) the perfect cup of chai for a few years now. On my last India trip I asked my local friend Juhi how they do chai at home but she simply said: ‘But it’s so easy! You simply take {…insert long list of spices here…} and the right quantity of milk, boil it on the stove – and that’s all there is to it!’

The perfect kitchen for the perfect chai!

The perfect kitchen for the perfect chai!

After coming back from India I decided to give it yet another go. I thought: Fine, let’s forget about all the ready-to-infuse-teabags and try the real thing (we have about 23 boxes of chai, barely touched, in the cupboard and I can confidently say that I’ve bought everything both supermarkets and health food stores have on offer). But even after gathering all the spices needed from an Indian grocery store – which is what you’ll need to do, unless cardamom seeds, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, nutmeg and ginger are all staples in your kitchen – it didn’t turn out quite right.

I wanted a chai that tastes as silky, rich, comforting, creamy, spicy, and also as pungent as the one you buy from the chai wallah in India, the caramel liquid stirred in a huge metal pot and served in tiny clay pots (traditional version) or plastic cups (21st century version). The kind of chai that leaves you satisfied, just like an excellent meal, warms body and soul and creates a slight tingle of excitement in the belly.

None of this seemed possible back home. Chai either turned out to be English Breakfast tea with a hint of spice, or a spice tea without the pungent, rich feel to it. I had tried all the major brands and had almost given up – until I saw an unfamiliar pack of loose chai tea in a friend’s cupboard: Byron Chai. She prepared two cups, and the first sip transported me straight to heaven. This tea is all you could ever want from a chai! Apart from all of the above, it’s also blended and packaged by a boutique Australian company based in New South Wales, so not only do you get an absolutely authentic taste, you also support a local business rather than an international corporation. The small team selects the spices and blends them with low tannin, pesticide free black teas, and there’s a new ‘Whole Spice Blend’ which is lower in caffeine than the signature ‘Indian Spiced Tea’ blend.

The box features Australian artist Gary Worley

The box features work by Australian artist Gary Worley

What I love about these teas is that you simply cannot go wrong with preparing them. Some tea blends require you to stand next to the stove and continuously stir for the recommended 20min, but this tea is ready in 5-10min, without being weak in taste. They recommend 1/3 milk to 2/3 water but I mix equal parts of milk and water and the spices still come out nicely. In summer I love a chilled chai, and just before going to bed brew some of the caffeine free versions.

Then I sit back, relax and plan my next trip to India!

What’s your favourite chai and how do you brew it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

~ Andrea

Image credits: BBC/Byron Chai

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14 replies »

  1. The best chai I’ve ever had, hands down, is at one of the guesthouses on the Annapurna Circuit trek. I only wish I remember the name of the place! Second place goes to a little wallah’s hole-in-the-wall in Kathmandu (Thamel), where I spent many mornings for nothing else but that perfect cuppa 😉

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    • I’m certain that in India and Nepal they add some sort of secret ingredient to their chai teas which they never tell us about. Anyway, it just adds to the mystery, craving and urge to travel back there!

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  2. I have a recipe that uses tea bags AND a lot of spices. I like it. I have a few boxes of Chai tea in my cupboard too. And when I posted something about the inconsistency I get at stores someone gave me the recipe. It wasn’t strong enough for me so I made another version and post it on my blog. I have to post things so I remember. I doubt my recipe compares to what you had in India, but I like it!

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  3. Beautiful photos! I love chai, especially as a morning tea or dessert tea when I need a little sweet and spicy fix 🙂 I must admit, I do just buy the Tetley tea bags, but I will have to seek out a bag of Byron Chai now!

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  4. Gorgeous photographs. I love chai as well, once a week a stall at our local farmer’s market sells mugs of amazing chai. Other than that I am one of those oddities who makes their own. However, I still stand by the belief that everything tastes better when made for me, so I’m keeping an eye out for this brand now! Thanks!

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  5. beautiful photography . makes you want to go to india. we are doing a chai tasting at body flow yoga in windsor this saturday for anyone who wants to try a local chai brew from thespicepeople.

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  6. Thanks for this post! I simply love chai tea and like you, have tried so many! I’m glad you found one in Australia! I will look out for that brand.
    Karen

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