A perfect (read STRONG) cup of chai can be a superfood if done right – and can kickstart your day like nothing else. Along with energy and a sense of well being, it provides mental clarity.
The good news is that it is EASY to get the hang of this art (yes – making chai is an ART form). The bad news is that most people get it wrong – because they either rush through some of the steps (everyone is an a rush to get their kick) – or do not have the correct equipment.
Most common mistakes/oversights
|A popular and flavorful brand of Indian Chai Leaves|
Here is a list of things that I used to often get wrong – and that make a difference in the final outcome.
- The cooking pot should provide even heating – and be the perfect boiling pot. The tea leaves should ONLY be added to boiling water – seriously boiling (not just starting to boil).
- The ginger should be fresh – and should be added to the boiling water FIRST – before even the tea leaves. It should be grated or chopped finely to release the juices.
- The chai leaves (powder) needs to be high quality. I use Red Label Orange Pekoe Leaves (available at any Indian grocery).
- The QUANTITY of chai powder needs to be MUCH more than what you would expect. Ideally, even if you are making ONE cup of chai, always add water for 2 cups and also the chai patti (powder) for 2 cups.
- The milk should be whole milk – and pre-heated before being added to the chai pot (which has been boiling with the leaves and ginger for at least 2-3 minutes).
- At the end of the process, COVER the chai pot – so that the fumes seep into the tea. These are the most flavorful part of the concoction – and it is a waste to let them escape.
Some Common Add-ins
Ginger (fresh) and Cardamom (fresh or powder) are the two most commonly added spices to Indian chai. Some people add both – some add just one or the other. Ginger is great for stimulating digestion as is ground Cardamom. A less common add-in – but one that works extremely well on sore throats is cloves. Just a single stem of clove needs to be added to the concoction.
The MACA add-in (for energy)
Although not part of Indian chai, maca root powder (from South America) is a super-food in itself. If you can tolerate it (it gives some people headaches – and can cause other side effects….Use the Gelatinized version of maca powder to reduce side-effects), it adds an additional ENERGY boost unlike any other. Again, this is purely optional – and only recommended if you have tried maca root before and can tolerate it without any side effects.
A complete list of the Ingredients