Apr 3, 2013

C is for Chai !

There is a reason I used "C" for chai and not "T" for Tea. Chai evokes many memories in my mind whereas tea just reminds me of black Tea without milk. Chai to me is the Indian Tea, with milk and spices. (To all my Non-Indian readers, Chai is simply the Hindi word for Tea) 

Nobody takes their Chai as seriously as my parents. For them it’s not just a cup of tea, it’s a sacred ritual. Their morning Chai routine is unwavering. The Tea kettle must be heated to the correct temperature and if its winter the cups must be gently rinsed in warm water. The tea leaves and spices are put in just as the water begins to boil and left to steep for exactly two minutes. (yes yes they do go by the clock)

The tea is poured out and my Dad sniffs at the aroma with the air of a connoisseur. The first sip is taken, A marie biscuit broken into two and reverently eaten with the ambrosial brew. You can almost see the smile of contentment on their faces. They have other cups of tea throughout the day, but nothing is as sacred and important as that first morning cup. 

I usually don’t approach my parents until they have had their morning cup of tea. They are far more amicable after that first cuppa!

My father loves his tea. We went to Palampur last year, all of us looking forward to relaxing amongst the mountains and the lush greenery of the tea gardens. He on the other hand just had one motive - to Drink the Famous Kangra tea. And he drink he did by the gallon, sitting in his hotel balcony overlooking the tea gardens. !

A tea garden near our resrot
I have some wonderful travel memories associated with Tea. My favorite memory is of driving through the Himalayas and stopping at a small road side Dhabha. It was cold and drizzling and we were starved. The owner made us crispy Pakoras and we washed them down with cups of steaming Ginger – Cardamom Tea. We couldn't have asked for anything better on that chilly evening. 

A few months back While trekking along the Pangong lake in Ladakh, we befriended a feisty young girl called Padma. She took us to meet her family and we had delicious cups of Gur Gur Chai (Salty Yak – Butter Tea) sitting on yak fur rugs in her smoky kitchen.

Another memorable cup of tea was with the Indian soldiers at Khardungla Pass.(The highest motorable road in the world) It was bitterly cold and that steaming cup of tea they gave us literally helped in thawing us out. It was a fantastic experience chatting with the Soldiers who have spent so many years in that sub zero temperature.

And since we are on the subject of Tea how can we forget Japan! Incidentally Tea is Japanese is called “Cha” 

I had Green tea for the first time when I went to japan and I have been hooked to it since. For the Japanese serving tea is a ceremony in itself. They have a wide range of Cha to choose from depending on the season and what is being eaten.


Japan is where tea is served both hot and cold and you can buy it in plastic bottles from vending machines. 



I think it’s the only country that uses green tea in cakes and sweets as well. The Haagen Dazs there serves tea flavored ice cream and there are green tea KitKats :p 


56 comments:

  1. I love my chai. My day cannot start without it. The Marie biscuits brought a smile to my face and many memories of India. Nice.

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    1. Glad you liked it ! Marie biscuits go wih Chai !

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  2. Quiet the traveler you are:-) And Ukrainians call it 'chai' as well!
    I hope green tea 'kit kat' would help one lose weight! LOL

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    1. I hoped so too but it was rather sweet !
      I guess Chai is almost a universal word.

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  3. What lovely memories associated with tea! My parents' tea schedule is also pretty ritualistic complete with Marie biscuits; only they have black tea without sugar!

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  4. Those are some interesting facts about tea, in Kitkats, ice-creams, cakes et al? Bottled too!
    I love green tea. I love tea as such, but only the tea prepared by my own self ;) Reason: I cannot stand the overly milky teas.
    Loved reading about the chai ritual of your parents :)

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  5. Wow tea kit kats
    Awesommme ruchira am a bigggggg tea lover and everyone say I make best elaichi tea
    Your post is so tempting
    I want to go to Himalayas and have tea now !!
    My bestest tea memory is when I had at rohtang pass along with a steaming plate of Maggie
    We suffered with AMS but tea helped a lot
    Tea always is my savior !

    My comment it self may become a post :p hence stopping here ;)
    People say coffee and they love CCD but to me nothing like tea . It uplifts like it does to
    That girl in Lipton Taaza ad and my mood can be set right with one cup
    Loved reading this :)

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    1. I love elaichi tea ! Tea at high altitude always seems to help ! If nothing else at least it warms you up !

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  6. My husband is another connoisseur of tea made to exact specs he glad

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    1. Yeah it gets tough to meet the exact specs of these tea lovers !

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  7. Lovely post...here is another Tea lover :-)
    That Japanese green tea used for cooking is Matcha.

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    1. Yes Matcha it is ! I know how much you love tea !

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  8. You will be surprised that i dont drink tea ever -- that is Indian tea, though my parent, siblings, daughters and hubby do.

    But i love the tea served in authentic Chinese restaurants and green tea as well. There is so much of Japan in your posts - and in YOU :)

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    1. Thank you Aabha ! One can learn a lot from the Japanese !

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  9. I love Chai too, and am really trying to restrict it to twice a day only.

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    1. Yeah to much tea can get toxic !

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  10. I was nodding my head in approval when reading about your parents morning tea ritual... it is the same for me... the most cherished time in the morning is when I am sitting with my mug of tea... no disturbances, no talks... just me and my cup with a book or a newspaper or the laptop.
    Loved reading about your tea experiences. Even we have had tea with the soldiers at Khardungla! :)

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    1. Quiet time with morning tea .. sounds perfect !

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  11. Oh the first sip of the day! I too love my tea. I prefer not to drink any if it hasn't been made the way I like it. :)

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    1. Yes tea lovers are a fussy lot :P

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  12. i love tea, have it and prefer it over coffee! I make my own tea in the lab in the absence of a good vending machine!

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    1. I hate office vending machine tea too !

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  13. Chai wala kitkat? I want! Am sending older son a link to this post ... he is like your parents - tea is religion to him

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    1. Thanks for sharing Ritu ! Chiwala KitKat is an interesting experience !

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  14. I am not really a tea-lover but I have many of those around me, so completely understand your feelings. I have been subjected to forcibly have tea, many a times. I remember an incident where two of my tea-lover friends forced me to drink a sip or two of tea , late at night so that they don't commit the sin of pushing it down the drain as their mugs were more than full.

    While they enjoyed their tea and went to sleep after a while, I ended up staying awake till 3 a.m. on a Monday morning. I haven't forgiven both of them yet.

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    1. Oh dear ! Tea keeps me awake too !

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  15. I am not good in chatting but I love Tea. You may read the following of my blog "A Cup of Hot Tea = A Cup of Good Health


    Tea Consumption Linked to Numerous Body Benefits

    A hot cup of tea may do more than relax you. Research shows tea consumption may help prevent a wide range of ailments.

    The latest medical research is finding potential healing powers in this ancient beverage. Recent research, for instance, suggests drinking tea may help prevent everything from cavities to Parkinson's disease. And some studies indicate it may even save lives.

    The benefits of tea consumption may extend throughout the body, experts believe. Here is a partial list of conditions some research has shown may be prevented or improved by drinking tea: "
    Read more http://mrinalkantipal.blogspot.in/2011/02/cup-of-tea-elixir-of-life.html

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    1. Will definitely read your post !

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  16. What a post! Loved it from start to end. My mom loves her tea just like that, minus the spices though. Me, I am a pain to deal with if I don't get my morning cuppa coffee.

    And now I want green tea kit kat please!!

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    1. Remind me never to go near you till you have had your first cuppa. Green KitKat is adventurous !

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  17. As you must have seen from Jose's post this morning, tea is an essential ingredient in our lives! I love how tea has been a part of your travels - the cup that binds! :)
    I have heard of the Ladhaki chai but didn't know the name.
    Wondering whether you've heard of the American chai latte? It's another name for our masala chai, I'm guessing!

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    1. They have chai latte is another name for milky tea :P

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    2. The cup that binds - what a lovely way to put it !

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  18. Green Tea Kit Kat!!! How did I miss that!! :D Was introduced to Green tea by a friend and surprisingly I am loving it..My intake of coffee has reduced considerably..:) Chai Time! :D

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    1. green Tea is awfully good for you !

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  19. What a post..Reminded me of my visit to the tea gardens of Darjeeling. And tea is called CHAA in Bengali as well :-) Loved the post. Never thought about the emotional connect to tea

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  20. I am a tea person too. But tea with yak butter sounds really adventurous.

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    1. It was salty .. but truly delicious !

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  21. Just last week, I was at Makaibari Tea Estate, Kurseong. The famous Darjeeling Tea was an eye opener, the connoisseurs pay something like 18k for a kg of silver tips, incredible. Tasted more than 20 types ranging form first flush to dust. The whole experience was something to be cherished for a long time.

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    1. Wow ! must have been some experience !

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  22. I am a chai lover. Thanks for sharing your parents' chai ritual. I will try it tomorrow. I am still perfecting the art of making chai. You have had some wonderful experiences.

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    1. You need patience to try their ritual ! good luck :)

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  23. such a warm post ...loved reading about your parents' ritual ...and green tea kit kats ...you have me floored :)

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    1. Yes people usually get a shock when they hear about green Kitkats

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  24. My parents almost have the same tea-rituals. Both of them can't function until that first cup goes in. My mother is always trying out different kinds of tea leaves, she is never satisfied.

    I love travelling too. I've been saving to go to Ladakh, but people around me are like "Shouldn't you be saving for marriage in this age" :-/

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  25. oh wow- what wonderful memories. i was reminded of the morning beverage making ritual at my place; the only difference being my parents begin their day with coffee. Loved reading the post ruchira :)

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  26. :D I love tea almost as much as coffee, Ruchira. Enjoyed reading about your parents' chai ritual. That first cup of the morning is so sacred!

    We visited the tea gardens in Darjeeling last year and it was like heaven!

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  27. I don't mind drinking tea when I feel like. I like coffee better than tea but there are days that I yearn for tea. My mum loves her tea and sometimes when she sips her cuppa, i get the urge to take a sip as well.

    Your tea tales were quite interesting. I can't imagine Kit-Kat in a tea flavour though.

    Ah, I forgot, I'm a regular G-tea drinker.

    Joy always,
    Susan

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  28. Chai for me is my existence, my energy, my motivator for going to work. A single day without my dear "chai" is an awful headache. I can relate to this post and most of us can. :)

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  29. Wow! you too a chai addict. Me too. I love tea in all their forms.

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  30. I love your chai stories but envy your destinations and journeys :) You are a Lucky lady.

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  31. Chai for me anytime anywhere,in a BIG mug,kadak,meethi adrak wali.It is 2am and I think I should make myself one..right now. Wanna have ?? Chai garam !

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  32. I really need to check out that green kit kat...

    the only green tea I have tried has always been quite ordinary and nothing as wonderful as most people say... maybe you need to get some to Kufri and serve us ! :D

    Chai I guess is India's life line ! atleast the most parts of it... In gujarat Wagh-Bakri (Translation - tiger-goat see... we love animals) tea is very phamous !! have you tried it ??? maybe I will get a pack of it for you !!!

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  33. My parents too can't do without their chai in the morning and evening. I don't understand it but I have no such addiction. :)
    The one day I was really glad for a tea was when I came down from the freezing mount Titlis. There was an Indian Chai Van at the bottom of the mountain and I was so happy when I saw it.

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