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.....