Calling All Chai Wallahs

Fully oxidized tea leaves for a robust cup.


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Jul 18th, '16, 01:29
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Calling All Chai Wallahs

by Takarabune » Jul 18th, '16, 01:29

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Nothing captivates my senses like a good cuppa masala chai. I use loose leaf orange pekoe (Brooke Bond, Lipton, or Deep brands), and masala mixes (Badshah - when I want a very peppery blend, MDH T-Plus - when I want a lil' more star anise, and Laxmi - my classic blend). I'd love to prepare a masala mix from scratch one day. With so many different recipes and methods out there, I wonder... How do you chai?

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Sep 21st, '16, 22:13
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Re: Calling All Chai Wallahs

by Steve@Adagio » Sep 21st, '16, 22:13

Takarabune wrote: How do you chai?
Great question! One of my favorite things about chai is the ability to mix and match and play with flavors. Since "masala" basically just means "a blend of spices" it's really up to the maker to decide what those spices are.
For example, I worked at a cafe for a time where we made our own chai tea concentrate to use in making chai tea lattes. We would simmer a big pot of water on the stove with a high quality loose English Breakfast tea, a handful of cloves and cardamom pods, a few slices of fresh ginger, a few sticks of cinnamon, and some cracked black pepper. We usually let it steep and simmer for up to an hour to really infuse all of the flavors, and then would strain it through a cheese cloth before adding some house-made vanilla simple-syrup for sweetness. We would occasionally play with the quantities of spices, or try adding new ingredients like star anise and pink or white peppercorns instead of the usual black. It was fun to see how different the flavor and level of spice could become with a few simple changes.
I definitely encourage anyone to try making their own chai blend, because you might just surprise yourself with your own creativity! You can also check out Adagios available Chai blends for some inspirational tasting: http://www.adagio.com/chai/index.html :D

Sep 23rd, '16, 20:47
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Re: Calling All Chai Wallahs

by Whalebreath » Sep 23rd, '16, 20:47

Heavy on the Cardamom light on everything else hold the Fennel.

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Jan 15th, '17, 22:18
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Re: Calling All Chai Wallahs

by Takarabune » Jan 15th, '17, 22:18

Emily@Adagio wrote:
Takarabune wrote: How do you chai?
Great question! One of my favorite things about chai is the ability to mix and match and play with flavors. Since "masala" basically just means "a blend of spices" it's really up to the maker to decide what those spices are.
For example, I worked at a cafe for a time where we made our own chai tea concentrate to use in making chai tea lattes. We would simmer a big pot of water on the stove with a high quality loose English Breakfast tea, a handful of cloves and cardamom pods, a few slices of fresh ginger, a few sticks of cinnamon, and some cracked black pepper. We usually let it steep and simmer for up to an hour to really infuse all of the flavors, and then would strain it through a cheese cloth before adding some house-made vanilla simple-syrup for sweetness. We would occasionally play with the quantities of spices, or try adding new ingredients like star anise and pink or white peppercorns instead of the usual black. It was fun to see how different the flavor and level of spice could become with a few simple changes.
I definitely encourage anyone to try making their own chai blend, because you might just surprise yourself with your own creativity! You can also check out Adagios available Chai blends for some inspirational tasting: http://www.adagio.com/chai/index.html :D
Thanks for sharing, Emily! I'd like to explore the 'Kashmiri' or 'Noon Chai' variety, like The Republic of Tea's Republic Chai Green with ginger, cardamom, and almonds.

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Jan 15th, '17, 22:51
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Re: Calling All Chai Wallahs

by john.b » Jan 15th, '17, 22:51

It's kind of a completely separate subject from drinking plain, single-type, higher quality teas but I do experiment with making masala chai once or twice a year, in addition to other types of blends.

It's easy enough to do, and people needn't be over-concerned with using the best and most authentic recipe or freshest spices to make it the right way. Most of a basic version could be pulled off a spice rack: cinnamon, cardamom, clove, ginger, and pepper (ok, maybe typically not the cardamom, for most people's cabinets). Vanilla and nutmeg are a bit non-standard but I see no problem with approaching making this type of blend like cooking, adding whatever sounds good, and adjusting later versions based on what works out and what doesn't. Vanilla is nice for texture, if the beans / pods are handy, since it adds that sweet rich flavor and also a thick feel.

Star anise is also relatively standard but even in a version with that kept light and relatively well integrated it can still be a bit much, to me, and I can do without the pepper, although I get the intention. A touch of salt also helps, but it's necessary to be careful with that, quite easy to ruin it.

As for tea any black tea would do, but I tend to use two different versions of whatever is on hand, one more typical CTC version, Ceylon or whatever else (which I just hold onto to blend with when I come into those), and then something more like a Chinese black. I often have used a Vietnamese black tea since I've bought a lot of those and one version is suitable, but the right Lapsang Souchong can add a bit of smoke aspect that can work.

Jan 28th, '17, 12:28
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Re: Calling All Chai Wallahs

by bilochun » Jan 28th, '17, 12:28

assam black tea, cinnamon, green cardamom, ginger, clove, condensed milk or full fat milk or heavy cream, sugar

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Jan 29th, '17, 11:38
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Re: Calling All Chai Wallahs

by jayinhk » Jan 29th, '17, 11:38

I just ask my mom for some. lol

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Jan 29th, '17, 12:12
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Re: Calling All Chai Wallahs

by Psyck » Jan 29th, '17, 12:12

I add two tea spoons of this:
https://www.vahdamteas.in/products/maha ... oolong-tea
to a mug of boiling milk and after about 10 mins, strain and stir in two teaspoons of honey.

I have never tried to blend the spices in myself.
In the past I probably purchased a pack of ready-made tea spices powder (the masala mixes mentioned by the OP, which are commonly available here in India) to add to black tea to turn regular chai into masala chai.
However, I prefer to buy something like the above now instead, for the rare times I have masala chai.

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Jan 29th, '17, 22:34
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Re: Calling All Chai Wallahs

by jayinhk » Jan 29th, '17, 22:34

We make our own masala chai blend in a spice grinder...there's always some around. Unfortunately I'm lactose intolerant, so I rarely drink masala chai (please don't say chai tea, it's redundant like saying pu erh cha tea). I might have to try a soy-based masala chai at some point.

Also, Psyck, thanks for the link to that store! They have some interesting offerings. I'll have some sent to our home in Mumbai the next time mom is over there. I'm considering leaving some tongs of pu erh in Mumbai since the climate is definitely suitable for pu erh aging, but I'm worried bugs will get into it.

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Jan 30th, '17, 06:40
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Re: Calling All Chai Wallahs

by Psyck » Jan 30th, '17, 06:40

jayinhk wrote:We make our own masala chai blend in a spice grinder . . .
Yeah making your own has the advantage that you can blend them in the ratios you prefer, however while I do have the ingredients & implements for it, I drink it too rarely to bother with it.
jayinhk wrote:. . . I'm considering leaving some tongs of pu erh in Mumbai since the climate is definitely suitable for pu erh aging, but I'm worried bugs will get into it.
I suppose most places in the tropics are suitable for ageing, and Mumbai being in the coast on top of it, is hot & humid all year round. I myself live in the middle of the peninsula, however since I'm at a significant altitude, I get the blast of the monsoons from all directions (SE, SW, and returning winds) ensuring average humidity in the 60's and a more temperate weather.
You shouldn't worry about bugs inside the house I think, just spread some lines of diatomaceous earth all around your storage area and you should be fine. Of course you could just have them stored with me instead - that way I can sample them at regular intervals to let you know if they are ageing well :wink:

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Jan 30th, '17, 07:28
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Re: Calling All Chai Wallahs

by jayinhk » Jan 30th, '17, 07:28

Psyck wrote:
jayinhk wrote:We make our own masala chai blend in a spice grinder . . .
Yeah making your own has the advantage that you can blend them in the ratios you prefer, however while I do have the ingredients & implements for it, I drink it too rarely to bother with it.
jayinhk wrote:. . . I'm considering leaving some tongs of pu erh in Mumbai since the climate is definitely suitable for pu erh aging, but I'm worried bugs will get into it.
I suppose most places in the tropics are suitable for ageing, and Mumbai being in the coast on top of it, is hot & humid all year round. I myself live in the middle of the peninsula, however since I'm at a significant altitude, I get the blast of the monsoons from all directions (SE, SW, and returning winds) ensuring average humidity in the 60's and a more temperate weather.
You shouldn't worry about bugs inside the house I think, just spread some lines of diatomaceous earth all around your storage area and you should be fine. Of course you could just have them stored with me instead - that way I can sample them at regular intervals to let you know if they are ageing well :wink:
Your location sounds like a nice place to live, since Mumbai can get uncomfortably hot and humid. :D But 60% humidity and temperate sounds too close to Kunming conditions, so maybe a little too mild for my preferred kind of aging. The heat and humidity is why I'm curious about aging pu erh there...the summer monsoon means seriously high humidity, and it is warmer than HK in winter for sure. That and we have so much space there compared to here, so I can just leave a few tongs there and forget about them!

I am worried about bugs because I left a rattan stick I bought in Pune out and the bugs destroyed it in a few months! Can you get DE in India? Diatomaceous earth is a really good idea.

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Jan 30th, '17, 09:07
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Re: Calling All Chai Wallahs

by Psyck » Jan 30th, '17, 09:07

The annual average here is about 65, and it is close to 80's for more than half the year during monsoon, and the winters and summers aren't too dry here either. So it is decent enough climate without need for me to artificially control the climate around the storage.

Fumigation via various dhoop incenses is the most commonly practised method in India of keeping bugs away from home - but you wouldn't want to do much of that near tea storage. Diatomaceous earth is easily available here, in bulk for gardens and in spray cans for bed bugs & ants.

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Jan 30th, '17, 10:31
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Re: Calling All Chai Wallahs

by jayinhk » Jan 30th, '17, 10:31

Psyck wrote:The annual average here is about 65, and it is close to 80's for more than half the year during monsoon, and the winters and summers aren't too dry here either. So it is decent enough climate without need for me to artificially control the climate around the storage.

Fumigation via various dhoop incenses is the most commonly practised method in India of keeping bugs away from home - but you wouldn't want to do much of that near tea storage. Diatomaceous earth is easily available here, in bulk for gardens and in spray cans for bed bugs & ants.
I don't think I've ever seen a DE spray...I'll have to look into that! Yes, I'm not burning dhoop around my tea, and I wouldn't be able to when the apartment is all locked up!

You're lucky to have a good aging environment then! Might be worth buying some classic cakes and letting them sit and forgetting about them for five to ten years! :) I hope to add a significant number of tongs to the stash this year.

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Jan 30th, '17, 14:00
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Re: Calling All Chai Wallahs

by Psyck » Jan 30th, '17, 14:00

Just to clarify, well when I said spray, I meant a plastic canister thingy that is manually squeezable to shoot out a spray of white dust of DE - not some paint spray can. You can find a ton of em in amazon india or the like.

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