Monday, February 7, 2011

The Best Chai 最高のチャイ

I love tea. Therefore, I love beautiful tea cups and tea sets from around the world. The photo above is a part of my Moroccan tea set collection. You must have a good mint tea with those!
My favorite is chai, the Indian masala milk tea. My day cannot start without a good cup of chai, and I am extremely fussy about the taste. Chai needs to be boiled for a long time in order to get that dense and aromatic flavor from the tea leaves and milk. So for some years now, my husband who gets up earlier makes the chai for me. I don't know how he does it, but it is good... I think that he puts some extra love in it :)


The best chai I have ever had was in Madras (Chennai), India. Madras is known for its tasty coffee, the Madras Coffee. Before I left for Madras some of my desi friends had told me, "Oh, Rima. You MUST try the Madras coffee there. It really changed my life!" And you know what? They were not kidding. I could not believe the taste. It was unbelievable!!! Then I said to myself, "If the coffee is this good the chai must be amazing."

I found a chai wala on a street, and ordered one. The locals were served in the glasses, but the chai man gave me a tiny plastic cup that was three times smaller than a glass. He charged me 8 rupees instead of 2 ruppees for the locals. I was a little bothered by it, but could not care less. Hey, I was a tourist with a camera. What could I do? So I focused on the chai. Then... Oh. My. God. I was speechless. Could not believe it. It was heaven. I am sorry, I cannot find a good word to describe its magical taste! I was standing there in silence, totally mesmerized. The local men, about a dozen of them, were watching me very seriously. "Have another! Take my photos!," they kept talking at me, but I was in my own world. I ordered another one, and another... (well, the cup was so small!) As I write this my mouth is getting watery...



Then I had chai several times a day every day while I was in Madras. Each cup was so sweet, and I could not figure out if I would be buzzed up with caffeine or sink down with sugar. All I can remember is that I was happy to have each cup. This man in the photo was serving chai at our table when we were dining at a five-star-hotel. He poured the chai from high up into the cup, so I asked him why. "To cool down and also to whip up the taste." It was so entertaining to watch - it was so elegantly done! It has been a while since the last time I went to Madras. I think that I must go there again soon... just to have the best chai in the world.


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