Growing up I was never a fan of chai, but in South Asian traditions chai isn’t just a drink – it’s a lifestyle. My mom literally would not operate in the morning until I made her morning chai for her. I can actually recall not being allowed to wake her up unless I had a mug in my hand. Oh, and it had to be perfect. The right mug, the right 3/4 way full, and the right color. The guidance was “use the color of your skin” – when I was tan in the summer it led to many problems in my household.
I was the odd one out. I wasn’t interested in this bitter-sweet drink that was more or less: water & milk. In hindsight, I guess this is how non-immigrant kids feel about their parents with coffee. First thing in the morning, afternoon indulgence, and an after-dinner treat. Our family went through more tea bags than I could keep track of. The interesting thing was just how serious these people are about their tea. Male family members actually travel with a teabag in their wallet – yes, you read that right. Nope, not a family picture or $100 bill tucked into the pocket of your wallet – a teabag.
I swear that the two biggest things that South Asians disagree on is India vs. Pakistan cricket and microwave or stove chai. This is a religious argument. People will actually ask how the tea was made before accepting or rejecting the offer to have some. I grew up in a #TeamMicrowave family and my husband was #TeamStove – don’t worry, our parents were very friendly the first time they met (we prepared them).
Now that we have our own household, we’ve perfected the art of the morning, afternoon, or evening chai. We try to limit it to once a day, but on the weekends anything can happen. Here is our simple formula for foolproof chai that everyone can love:
- Add water to the electric kettle. A standard amount is .75L for two people (see marker on kettle)
- Steam water by clicking on the 212 degrees F and click start
- After your water is done boiling, add it to two mugs with a Teatley tea bag placed in the bottom. Be sure to only fill the cup 2/3rds of the way
- Let the tea bag steep in the water for 2 minutes. Cover the mug with a small plate to ensure the heat stays in the mug.
- After 2 minutes, remove the tea bag and add in sugar + honey to your preference. A good rule of thumb is a half teaspoon of each and then increase to your liking. If you are new to Chai and like sweeter drinks – you can start with 1 teaspoon of each.
- Add milk to your chai, I opt for a 2% organic milk until your cup reaches 3/4 full. (Note never fill to the top, ratio is important!)
- Dip a mini Biscotti in your chai and enjoy!
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