Different Types of Indian Chai
- In the south of India, fresh basil is often added to the tea and spice mix.
- In Assam, chai wallahs often add only fresh grated ginger to the tea, milk, and sugar.
- Punjabi chai is made by boiling black tea with green cardamoms, grated fresh ginger, and cloves in a mix of milk and sugar for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Pink Kashmiri tea is called noon (salt) chai and is a thick, creamy, salty tea made by simmering gunpowder green tea in water with green cardamoms and a pinch of baking soda or saffron to give the pink hue. Boiled milk is then added to the tea, and the brew is mixed with a little salt, with sugar and ground nuts (pistachios and almonds) sometimes also added. The beverage is served at special occasions, such as wedding feasts.
- In Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, in the northeast of India, butter tea is popular. Like Tibetan butter tea, this is made with tea leaves, water, yak’s butter, and salt, but today the yak’s butter is often replaced by milk.
- In Puna and Hyderabad, Irani chai is popular. This is made by boiling water and tea leaves until the water has reduced by half. The liquid is then strained and set aside. In a separate pan, milk is brought to a boil and reduced by about two-thirds. Then mawa or khoya (a reduced milk concentrated to one-fifth of the original quantity) or dried milk powder is whisked into the milk and simmered until it thickens slightly. This is then mixed with the strained tea, sweetened with sugar, and sometimes flavoured with cinnamon or ground green cardamom.
- Adhrak wali chai is made by brewing tea with a generous amount of fresh grated ginger; milk is added once the tea has been prepared.
- Kahwah is made with tea, saffron, cardamom, and cinnamon and is served with almonds, walnuts, sugar, and honey.
- Malaai maar ke chai is a heavy, very sweet tea prepared with thick cream rather than milk.
Contributing Editor Jane Pettigrew, an international tea expert who has written many books on the subject, including her newest, Jane Pettigrew’s World of Tea, is a recipient of the British Empire Medal. A former tearoom owner, she is a much-sought-after consultant to tea businesses and hotels, a conference speaker, and an award-winning tea educator. Although her travels take her around the globe, she resides in London.
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