Sunday, January 24, 2010

Limbering up and buckling down

Howdy again!

I hope that everyone out there had a fantastic holiday season! I spent most of mine lounging around my parents house, catching up on sleep from the past semester and working on several knitting projects.

But now I am back in school (and have been for almost 3 weeks) and trying to get back into the swing of everything. Hopefully I will be able to continue posting here this semester, since last semester I got distracted by many things, events, people, the beach... well... you get the point.

So here I am, another year has passed, and I'm trying to think of what my first non-iced tea should be for the year. I decided on trying out Adagio's Rooibos Vanilla Chai.

My usual desk set-up for reading...

Mmm snacks... mmm tea...-sigh- reading D:

Chai is something that i'm very fond of, having first had it many years ago. My dad would make it in a really large pan on the stovetop and then keep it in the fridge where I could pour myself a mug, microwave it, and enjoy as I wanted. Since then I've had many different kinds of chai, made many different ways.

Chai is, of course, the general name for tea. Most people are familiar with Masala Chai, or spiced tea, which comes traditionally from India. There Chai is boiled continuously to enhance the flavor, resulting in a strong, spicy blend. People state-side have more usually had Chai-Latte, where they've mixed chai-extract (or flavoring) with steamed milk and copious amounts of sugar to produce a very sweet, slightly spicy, and rich drink.

Spiced Chai seems to have grown out of the desire for India natives to drink tea, but not pay as much since it was taxed by the British. They would mix the tea with spices and then serve it British style, with milk and sugar, to help defray costs. While this angered many of the tea producers, this type of preparation became popular and outlived the British reign over India.

Spiced chai usually is made up of four major components. Tea, Sweetener, Spices, and Milk. The tea is usually a black tea, and is sometimes ground to help intensify its flavor. To the tea a sweetener, usually sugar, is added, along with a variety of spices. Commonly found chai spices are, Clove, Cinnamon, Ginger, Peppercorn, Anise, Cardamom, and Nutmeg. Many people tend to prefer to make their own blends instead of buying mixed Chai. This mixture is then boiled in a mixture of milk and water to create a delicious creamy, spicy, and soothing drink.

Recently there have been more people experimenting with chai, making it with green tea or rooibos instead of black tea, or adding in non-traditional spices such as vanilla, chocolate, etc. Some people enjoy the tea steeped as normal tea would be with only boiling water, others like to do this and then add milk and or sugar. Others prefer to make it the traditional way, boiling the mixture on the stovetop. Iced chai is also becoming popular, especially in milkshake-like blends.

I opted to make this in the traditional style, why mess with something that's perfect? I took 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup milk, added about 4 tsp of sugar, and a few tbsp of the chai mix and mixed them all in a pan, stirring every now and again on the stove until the liquid looked the right color, which took a little over 10 minutes, The result was slightly more than a cup of delicious, spicy, and interesting cup of chai.

The rooibos creates a different spicy taste than normal black tea. I'm not sure that it's better than traditional black tea, but it's not bad. The vanilla is delicious in this, and the other spices complement each other nicely. Its a good blend, not something that I would reach for everyday, but on a cold rainy day it sure does warm up the body and soul.

I would recommend trying this tea several ways and see what works for you! In my experience it gets spicier as it cools down, but you might find something different.

I prefer snacking while (studying and) drinking tea. On my plate above you can see a tea egg, sliced in half, cream cheese topped with raspberry preserves with crackers, and a small daifuku. mmm. I like the crackers and cream cheese best with chai, since the creamy and sweet works well with the creamy and sweet of the chai.

Happy Sipping!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let me know what you're drinking and thinking!