Yesterday I saw on Facebook a post about how good the Starbucks “chai tea” was, so I went to the nearest Starbucks and bought one. Was it good?, I think not because of the overwhelming sweetness and the use of artificial flavors of caramel and vanilla. In fact in a lot of good places if you ask for a Masala Chai you will end up with a tea that does not resemble the character of the principal spices that it’s supposed to have.

So, why not go to your local spice supplier and design your own Masala Chai.

There are a lot of different mixes of Masala Chai, depending of the region and country, but the most common ingredients are: Black tea leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, peppercorn, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, cumin, licorice root, coriander, root and fennel seeds.

Now, before you start to looking for recipes and mix ingredients, remember that you should put your personality in the mix, for example: a) I want a Masala Chai designed for a long chat with a friend b) My Masala Chai should be bold, colorful or like a certain person or character. So by first knowing -how you would like to have it- you won’t need anyone’s recipe.

I like the “Masala Chai for a long chat with a friend” statement, so by first knowing this I knew that my mix should not have to be extremely spicy or with a quick bitter attack but should need to have some “sweet” spices that throughout the journey will make a nice company to all the strong notes of the black tea and finally making the point of having a nice and long chat with a friend without ending with an itchy mouth feel.

A great way to avoid getting lost in the process from “concept to kitchen” is to group the spices in three categories:

Citric: Cardamom, ginger and coriander seeds.

Sweet: Star anise, licorice root, dry vanilla pods (remember that vanilla rocks with all! and will add the elegant, nice, sweet and smooth factor), cinnamon, Castilla rose, viola odorata and almond (not an spice but grouped in this category).

Spicy: Nutmeg, cloves, cumin and peppercorns. Try different types of peppercorns, we end up with the pink and the big black one.

Now try to balance the ingredients of each category using a precision scale, writing down the proportions and not forgetting the initial statement of the overall concept.

Finally, balance the citric, the sweet and the spicy with the black tea leaves. Make some infusions and debate when your homemade mix its done.

Enjoy your very own Masala Chai.

Aa.

Foodie facts:

1.Remember that the word “chai” means “tea” and “masala” is referred to this specific mix of ingredients, remember this the next time you ask for one!

2.Learning more about tea:

http://video.about.com/coffeetea/How-to-Brew-a-Cup-of-Tea.htm

http://www.teainfusion.com/types/black-tea.html

http://ezinearticles.com/?Modern-Black-Tea-Infusions&id=6393091

http://www.itoen.com/preparing-tea

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea