If you've ever walked into a hipster tea house, watched a documentary on India or are just generally not living under a rock, you've most probably already heard about the wonderful, mysterious, oriental specialty called masala chai.

Well, here's two secrets I have to share with you:

  • Chai (or chae, cha, čaj, etc.) is just another word for tea (or tee, thé). Actually from my observations the tea-drinking nations can be divided into "tea"- and "chai"-nations. The former (e.g. UK, Germany, France) have gotten their tea by sea; while the latter are either countries of origin (e.g. China, India, Japan) or nations that have gotten their tea by land (e.g. Russia, Persia, Slovenia). This diversification seems to have originated from the different pronunciation of the same word in different lands/cantons of origin.

  • Masala is just a word for spice mix. You can put it into curry or any other dish. Yes, this means that technically curry powder is a masala, while curry is roughly a word for a type of side dish.

So putting two and two together, masala chai is just the local name for spiced tea!

Well, as with all national dishes, it has a vast number of local variations, but all include tea, spices, milk and something to make it sweet.

So here's my easy to make, slightly westernised masala chai recipe:

  1. Bring water to a pearly boil (i.e. very small bubbles of air are just starting to show up).

  2. Pour the water over a teaspoon of strong black tea (Assam is the most obvious choice) and half of a teaspoon of garam masala (which you can get ready made in every decent supermarket nowadays) for every cup and leave for 3-5 minutes (I prefer 4,5).

  3. Strain into your cup(s) and serve with milk and sugar (or honey).

Tip no. 1: this also works quite well if you want to spice up your recycled tea. Tip no. 2: do not mistake garam masala for tandori masala unless you're into hot stuff!

It's probably not as good as the original, but it's certainly better then what you'll get served in most hipster tea houses or buy as ready made mixes. And it's easy to make.

hook out → drinking masala chai and studying

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