As I’m staring out the train window, I think that autumn is not all that bad. Summer is definitely my favourite season with its walks, bike rides, picnics, long days and ice-cold drinks. But it’s over yet again and as the leaves of the trees turn a rusty brown, I can’t help but think they look a bit like the coppery leaves of a light black tea. Like a Ceylon. The morning mist is just starting to lift and it’s like the warm comfort of steam from a hot tea on a chilly morning.
It seems that taking the time to look at the world around brings out the writer in me, haha! Seriously though, I’ve loved my ice tea adventures this summer. But now I’m starting to find myself craving a warmer cuppa not just in the sense of temperature but also in taste.
Chai. But which one?
There is a specific warmth and sweetness you get with a cup of chai that actually makes me excited for the colder weather. I’m not talking about those chai lattes you find in major coffee shops. They are, more often than not, made with a powder full of sugar and stirred in some frothy milk. In all honesty, I used to drink them until I found out how they’re made.
If you want a real chai latte the traditional way, you need to steep some chai tea in simmering milk for about 10 minutes.
But even without milk, chai can be a delicious drink that feels like a treat without being bad for you. In fact, spices such as cinnamon, cardamom and cloves have therapeutic properties. For example, cinnamon helps balance blood sugar levels and is an antiseptic, while cardamom helps clear congestion and is a metabolic booster.
I suggest you start with a traditional black chai, though green ones can be tasty too! Here are some that I’ve tried and their pros and cons.
Marks & Spencer 50 teabags
You know I’m not a big advocate of teabags, but sometimes convenience is welcome. Especially when you try to rush out the door in the morning. And with chai, the spices can help disguise the stronger, more tannic flavour of traditional black tea teabags.
Newby’s Masala Chai silken pyramids
A tea pyramid still gives you convenience but rewards quality as the tea has a lot more space to expand, more contact with the water and is generally of a better grade. I actually did a blind taste test with my husband on this tea versus the M&S teabags and while he could tell the Newby tea is of a higher quality, he preferred the more intense traditional taste. I prefer this Masala Chai because the tea and the spices seem to share the stage and dance, not scream at you. But each to their own!
I had this as part of my advent calendar last year and it somehow escaped consumption. Quite rare really, but such a joyful find as a result. There is something quite charming about a cup of tea by candlelight and this tea, similar to the candle, gives warm from the spices but also quite a kick from the fact that T2 use whole cardamom pods in the blend. So I suppose you could say it’s a combination of the advantages of the two teas above.
What about you? Do you like Chai? If so what are your favourite blends? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter and Instagram @whiteduckling.
Until next time,