Thursday, May 25, 2006

Seeking the perfect cup of CHAI


I'm not a coffee drinker, and never have been. I just don't like the taste of it, and the few times I've had to drink it were torturous. When I lived in Italy, and visited people in their homes, I was given coffee routinely and told "Senora, mi fa offesa" if I refused it (rough translation, "it offends me - hurts my feelings - if you don't drink it"). They always gave me the coffee in the tiny expresso cups, black as pitch, with the little spoon standing nearly straight up in the thick gunk. I remember how drinking that coffee made me jittery, on edge, shaky, and feeling awful. That was the last of it. But I do have a morning fix. I love Chai! For those of you not familiar with it, chai is a hot drink based on black tea and a variety of aromatic spices, mixed with milk and honey. It's yummy, the ultimate comfort drink. Fortunately, living in Santa Cruz, one can always get a great cup of chai. Still, I'm always on the hunt for the perfect cup of chai, no matter where I go.

My favorite is Sun Chai, manufactured right here in Santa Cruz. It is exactly right - sweet, but not too sweet, plenty spicy, deep and flavorful. Many of the coffee shops around here use it, fortunately. The chai made by Staff of Life is also quite good. Malabar Trading Company sells a packet of black tea and chai spices so that you can brew your own. My favorite of their brands is Kashmiri Chai, but they have several other varieties. For me, the worst is Oregon Chai. It comes in boxes, and is so sticky sweet, and non-spicy. Let's just say that, if I'm desperate for a cup of chai and what's on offer is Oregon Chai, I'll pass. There are many other brands, and I've explored some of them but not all. We're coming up on summer, so for chai lovers like me there is also the possibility of having iced chai, or even a chai shake.

But here's my ultimate: Mocha Chai. Find your favorite chai and add chocolate to it, either cocoa or chocolate syrup. Make sure that the chocolate is as good in quality as the chai. Mmmmmm, now you're in heaven. What could be better?? Fortunately my quest continues.....

8 comments:

The Fat Lady Sings said...

My addiction is green tea. I adore it. It makes me feel better just smelling it - and I love the endless varieties. I haven't tried Chai yet. You know - I was so taken with your marvelous I AM post, I put it up on my site with a link to you(and the credit, of course). Marvelous - just marvelous. Have a lovely week, my dear.

Endment said...

I am persuaded--- I will try chai! (not the Oregon chai of course)

adagio said...

hi sigrid. i have decided to post you my own recipe. #if# you try it, do tell how it measures up.


Sweet Spiced Indian Tea

1 pint water
1” piece cinnamon stick
8 whole cardamon pods
8 whole cloves
3/4 cup milk
6 tsp sugar
3 tsp loose black tea (not flavoured)

Put water and spices into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, on low for 10 minutes. Add the milk and sugar and bring to a simmer again. Throw in the tea leaves, cover and turn off heat. After 2 minutes, strain and serve.

cheers!

Cyndy Goldman said...

Sigrid,
Your last drawing is absolutely beautiful! Very inspiring for me. aaahhhh, Chai. My favorite too over my occassional cup of Mocha. I have a similar recipe like that of Adagio with the addition of a piece of freshly sliced ginger boiled into the mix. I'm truly inspired this early morning by you and going to make myself a fresh cup of Chai right now and wish you were here to join me! Namaste!

robin andrea said...

Wonderful chai discussion. I like Adagio's recipe. I'm going to look for Sun Chai here to see if our local Co-op sells it. My mouth is already anticipating the flavors.

Sigrid Jardin said...

Yum, thanks everyone for indulging my addiction with me! I especially loved getting the recipe suggestions.

TDharma said...

I must say, the chai latte I love most is at - gasp - Starucks! I'll even take a cup of it into Walnut Ave. cafe with me on a Saturday morning. The coffee at Walnut SUCKS, but everything else there is delicious.

Anonymous said...

While I'm a chai fan myself, I can not get enough time on my hands to brew a neat cup everytime I have a craving. I've found this one webstore that carries a specific brand that was really EASY to use and tasted great. While their chai tea did not blow the socks out of the water (pretty average), their matcha green tea was to die for. I can't get my fix anywhere else... Their website is www.buyboba.com I've tried their Chai, Matcha green tea, and Thai tea. Thai tea was very similar to the ones you get at a Thai restaurant, without hours of brewing the thai leaves...