This is something I learned in this past trip to India…
Every time you visit a store or for breakfast you get offered tea. And the tea they refer to is chai masala tea. This is a tea made already with milk and seasoned with some kind of sugar/sweetener and a blend of spices or masala.
The masala blend for the tea is usually a spice mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, ginger and sometimes even peppercorns.
I am not the tea drinker; Annie Mariel is the tea drinker here. And the teas I usually drink are mostly herbal (chamomile, spearmint, linden, lemongrass, etc.) to avoid the caffeine in most teas. But I was intrigued by this chai masala I was being offered all the time.
I loved it… it is traditionally served in these clay cups. Not to worry, the cups are disposable and used only once. Even when you get seconds, the cups are never reused. I was told the cup itself gave some flavor to the tea and that even a second pouring would not taste the same as the first one. And when I had tea in a paper cup or in a regular china cup, it did not taste the same as that original clay cup.
The one-time clay cups are also the preferred way to drink lassi, I later learned. I believe these disposable clay cups are partly the reason why there’s so much dirt flying in the air all the time… Imagine all these clay cups being thrown into the curbside, they get pulverized, the dirt then flies all over the place… you can imagine the picture.
But my love affair with this tea was short-lived… I wondered why I had not been offered this tea during my first trip if it’s so popular everywhere in India. The reason?? It has caffeine, and in the line of vegetarianism I practice, we avoid caffeine as it is a stimulant that is not beneficial to a healthy nervous system.
But it is sooooooo good, I am on a mission now to recreate this delicious chai masala tea in a decaffeinated version. Just stay tuned… OK?