Chai is a constant in my life. The moment my feet hit the ground in the morning and I start rubbing my blurry eyes, I’m thinking about the first cup of chai. When I finish a long and stressful work day, my first thought is; it’s time for chai, and without a doubt, when I entertain, chai is a must on the menu.
Over the years I’ve also developed a strange rhythm for the types of chai I drink in different seasons of my life. In the summer I tend to reach for a cardammom chai, and in the cold winter months adding fresh ginger to my chai masala is a must. Even my different moods dictate the type of chai I drink. Whenever I’m feeling kind of down, I crave a sweet “dhood chai” – tea with a little extra milk and sugar – my comfort chai.
Today I’m partnering with my go-to chai brand Tea India to share some of my favourite variations and add-ons for different blends of chai. Honestly, before I started working with Tea India I only used black tea bags. Every morning I would add my own masalas to a cup of black chai and sip away. Over the last two years though, many flavoured chais from their collection have made their way into my pantry. Here’s a few different ways I take my chai, depending on my mood, the season, and how full my to-do list is that week.Chai Moments on the go, or added to hot chocolate for a sweet treat!
Chai Moments – Instant Chai
I know what you are thinking, a true chai snob would never drink instant chai! Well yes and no. I have to admit that I don’t use chai moments nearly as often as I do tea bags and loose leaf tea, but they definitely have a place in my chai cabinet.
First off, they do come in handy for days when I know I’m going to be out all day and will need an afternoon pick me up. They are also great for a quick iced chai in the summer, but I have a secret way to use the Milk Chai packets – add them to hot chocolate! Trust me, it’s a delicious mix.
When it comes to tea bags there are two flavours I keep on hand for everyday use; Orange Pekoe and Cardamom. I also stock the Ginger flavour for days when my mom stops by.Two winter favourites; adrik vali chai (ginger chai) with star anise, and orange and nutmeg tea. These are my favourite pick me ups on cold days!
For my everyday chai I start with orange pekoe tea and add; fennel seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon, clove, and my secret ingredient, nutmeg. (You can watch this video for the whole process). When I use the cardamom flavour tea bags, I love to add fennel and rose petal for a special chai. Occasionally I’ll even add some orange rounds to the chai and steep it with a citrus flavour.
Mamri (Loose Leaf Tea)
So I was a real late comer to loose leaf tea. It was only after visiting India earlier this year that I realized how much flavour loose tea adds to chai. I still don’t use it everyday because it also add a few steps to the clean up process, but I like to think of it as my “ultimate chai”. I tend to turn to Mamri on lazy Sundays, or when I have guests over for tea. With loose leaf tea I always grind fresh whole spices in my spice grinder or with the mortar and pestle. For me the whole process is kind of therapeutic; grinding the spices, steeping the tea, and then sitting back and really enjoying it.
For me chai isn’t an “on the run” drink. It the chai stalls in India I didn’t see any to-go cups. No one was gulping down their chai and rushing off, it was an experience. That’s how I take my chai every time; with a side of relaxation or gup-shup.
Text By: Raj Thandhi, Images by Aziz Dhamani Photography
This post was brought to you by Tea India as part of a sponsored campaign with South Asian Bloggers Network. As always, I only write about brands I love and use in my own home. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Pink Chai Living. You can learn more about Tea India on their website, and Facebook page.
PS: Meet my namesake “chaiwala” from Amritsar!