Chai tea; or how water is ginger

I don’t drink coffee.

Caffeine is hard for me to handle; plus I would consume way too much for it to ever be considered beneficial. You know how we still crave the things that aren’t good for us? It would be an expensive and unhealthy addiction. (I’ve been there).

I drink chai tea. Chai tea, for you bean purists, is basically black tea with milk and a bunch of spices added to it. The tea varies in quality and spice selection depending on what you buy (and some people make their own) but typically the spices include cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, and pepper. It’s an aromatic delight.

I also usually drink decaffeinated chai tea. It seems ridiculous to drink black tea but take away the one redeeming quality of it, but I do. What I am basically left consuming is some milky, or watery, really sweet spices. It’s more like a sugar rush than a energy-boosting or calming tea.

You can buy chai tea in two ways: in tea bags or the pre-concocted liquid “tea in a box” variety. Either way you add milk, heat, and drink. And the varieties are as endless as there are tea makers.

Recently I asked my husband to pick up some chai mix. I was drinking the Starbucks-used Tazo Chai or else the Orgegon Chai because this is what was available as “tea in a box” at my local grocery store. But my husband stopped in a smaller store and came home with a powder form.

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This chai tea powder actually contained no tea whatsoever. The ingredients (remembering that ingredients are listed from most used to least used in quantity in a product) are a blur of sugar… cardamom, ginger, black pepper, cassia, white pepper, and nutmeg. The instructions on the box did not indicate that you brew your own tea and add this mix to your mix. No. It suggested you warm up some milk, add the powdered sugar-spice to the mix, and drink. Just pretend!

The other option available per instructions on the box was if you wanted to make Ginger Chai Tea. Here the trick was not to add ginger. The secret ingredient to making Ginger Chai Tea from a mix that contained no tea was to add water. Apparently water has hidden properties of containing ginger flavouring. Remember this next time you are making stir fry and want to add ginger — just add water!

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22 thoughts on “Chai tea; or how water is ginger

  1. I am enjoying a tea resurgence after I realized that coffee was making me too jittery. Chai has always been one of my favourites because I love cinnamon in virtually anything. interesting about the water though; you wouldn’t know it from the taste alone.

    • I like the caffeine version for when I don’t get a good enough night’s sleep. Since I don’t drink it often enough, it’s still a good pick-me-up for when I need it. I also don’t miss the coffee shakes and jitters.

  2. Back when I was a culinary student, sometimes we would have very early morning classes (6:00 a.m.) One class I had (forget the name) was taught by a chef from the Philippines. This one particular class happened to take place during the winter semester. Because it was early and the kitchen was super cold, the chef used to make a huge batch of chai tea — all from scratch (this was before I became a vegan). It was the best chai tea I have ever had. We used to try and replicate the recipe but were unsuccessful because we never knew the exact amounts that were used because the chef didn’t measure anything. He’d toss everything into a huge stock pot and voila! Delicious chai tea. Those were some great times. Thanks for taking back down memory lane. :-)

    GiRRL_Earth a.k.a. the coffee addict. ;-)

  3. Who knew? My water does not taste like ginger, I feel cheated. I like to make my own chai, I just use cardamom, sugar, milk, and black tea, nothing fancy. I learned how to make it from an Indian friend of mine—not that it’s a fancy recipe but it tasted better after I started using her proportions.

    • I think the key is proportions. We can all make cake, but it doesn’t work out if we use too much or too little of the ingredients. Something I am still learning in my gluten-free state.

  4. Love this post! Thinking of trying to tame the coffee monster – I drink so much that withdrawal is a FAR larger problem than jitters – and chai is a flavorful lighter alternative. I would point out that ,nowhere in the pictures, does the word “tea” occur, the product describes itself as “chai latte mix”, which I would interpret as “spiced milk beverage”…which does not sound too bad either!

    • Ah, you are observant. I guess it’s consumer beware when you buy something that proports itself as a “mix” rather than a product. So it’s not really that misleading that no tea actually appears in the ingredients, however other chai products I buy are also called a “mix” so that is confusing. No industry standard on chai ingredients!
      I also agree that withdrawal is a huge problem if you are an avid and copious caffeine consumer. I remember the week long headache I had.

  5. Tea is so delicious! I use to drink it all the time. I bought a nice iron teapot and would buy fresh tea leaves every two weeks or so. However, it became a little too time consuming so I just switched back to coffee. Recently I’ve been drinking Trader Joe’s Well Rested tea before bed and love it! I really enjoy the many different flavors of tea. Have you ever tried oolong tea? That was my favorite for a long time.

    • Well Rested tea sounds great. I can’t have caffeine close to bed as I just won’t sleep. I have tried oolong as well. There is just so much tea nowadays. You could drink all day and only sample a small bit of it. I think I’ll go make some now.

  6. I never actually had chai tea! Is it very strong? It seems to be more expensive even than flavoured teas, I always wondered why…

    But I gave up on caffeine a few months ago and haven’t looked back. My current fixes are decaf white coffee with hazelnut syrup and green tea with vanilla.

    • Chai tea is made with black tea but it’s not really strong. It’s more a lot of spices that adds the flavour and it’s usually also sweet (depending on how it’s made, how much milk you add, etc).
      I like your current decaf fix. They both sound delightful.

    • I think we all need a good vice to call up when we need the support, strength, or caffeine to get us through the day. Chai is a nice yet different alternative.
      There are days when I also miss coffee. :)

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