Lately I've been addicted to Chai... I stopped drinking coffee almost altogether and started ordering Chai at my local cafes... it's really fantastic.
But then I thought... darn this is expensive, for a drink that mainly involves some kind of bottled syrup, and some foamed milk. So I thought I'd go deeper. It turns out that yes, you can buy chai syrup, and it's not that hard to find. There are a few main brands, like Phoenix, and Monin. Even Starbucks has a pre-made chai mix you can buy (it's not a syrup, and it won't make very many cups of chai compared with a syrup, but hey, it's an option...).
But, I though these chai's a bit too sweet for my taste. So I took the next logical step... let's discover what a real chai tastes like, made from scratch.
God bless the Internet... I found tons of great resources and compiled some of them them in my Chai recipes.
I learned a lot. First thing I learned is that there is "sweet chai", which is sort of a basic Indian milk tea. And then "spicy chai" known as Masala Chai. I have to say, after experimenting with the Masala variety... I will never touch a sweet chai again.
I even discovered where my local indian spices warehouse is, and I mean warehouse. Like, 80 odd giant bins of all kinds of powdered substances they sell by the kilogram. Wow, amazing amazing amazing stuff. Prepare for a delight of the senses.
I even found one great Masala Chai recipe in particular which I love, but I've since realized that there are two problems going with a stock recipe...
First, you don't get to experiment easily. Once you've measured and mixed, you're pretty much stuck with that ratio of ingredients until you've used up all your pre-made mix (roughly 30 pots of chai later, let's say).
And second, the mix tends to settle. The finer powers gravitate towards the bottom which means, keeping the mix evenly mixed is tricky, even with a good shake now and again. In my experience, the chai gradually got less spicy the further I got in my pre-made mix. Not sure why, because it sure looked like there was powdered ginger left at the bottom, but it didn't taste the same as the powdered ginger that was on the top. No idea why...
My latest idea is this. Take all your spices, and put them into a single plastic container that has multiple compartments with pop-up lids. That way, I only have one "chai kit", but I can scoop out varying amounts and keep track... did this pot, with two tsp of ginger taste better than the last pot with only one tsp? Who can guess?
It also makes it easier to refill individual ingredients, and completely sidesteps the settling problem.
I'm looking for such a container now, and will dutifully report back once I've had some more fun.