by Kim Todd
not long after meeting the family, Jaydip Khambhu said "let me make you tea."
That was December 2019. Jaydip was completing his Masters Degree in Energy Systems at Memorial's Faculty of Engineering and took a chance on accepting our invite to Christmas dinner.
2020 being what it was, it wasn't until months later that Jaydip introduced us to his chai. And by that time he was part of the family.
Chai is black tea with milk, sugar and spices.
Taking no chances on the household cupboard, Jaydip brought most of his own ingredients (no round teabag).
Step one was releasing the leaves from the bag. But before that you had to start looking forward to it. Enjoying the tea is paramount.
Next step is to get the ingredients ready. Ginger, milk and sugar complement the leaves. Jaydip says all experienced chai-makers have their own ingredients, but his way is the best. He measures. And it's not just the engineer in him. There are questions: how many people are having tea? How big are the cups? All of this matters.
Get the stove on the go. Chai tea is not a kettle job. You need large saucepan, controllable heat, time, and patience.
The foundation. Add a little water to the tea and sugar. Once the bubbling starts the aroma draws you in. At this point its just tea leaves, water and sugar but you've been got. The sound is compelling too.
Add milk. When the temperature is right, pour in the milk. The milk has got to be cold, and it has to be poured in a steady stream.
Stir. Pour. Stir. As a drop-the-teabag-into-the-teapot-and-pour-in-boiling-water type of tea-maker, this part of chai-making was the most unfamiliar. It took ages. And the stirring was constant motion with a ladel of stir, pick up and pour, stir, pick up and pour. After the first few stressful minutes, it became a soothing process. This step is vital to the perfect chai as it lets the air in, and builds the silky, frothy texture.
Grate fresh ginger fast. When the mixture is hot, silky, and crema-like edges show up the inside of the saucepan, grate the ginger right into the pot. It has to be done quickly as you don't want to lose the consistency.
It's getting close! But those tea leaves that were let loose at the start have done their work. So has the grated ginger and there's no place for them in the cup.
The preference is to pour the perfect chai through a strainer into the cup, so as not to lose the temperature. Another set of hands is needed for the task.
It's perfect! Even colour, good consistency, great aroma and temperature. The cup the chai goes into is another level of joy. This one is pottery thrown by Christina Dove.
Tea with Jaydip was a joy! The chai was appreciated by all. Comfort in a cup, best enjoyed in good company with time to savour the taste and the experience.
kim is the CCO for the Guide to the Good social enterprise. one of the coolest things about Newfoundland culture is how it changes and evolves. Chai tea is a welcome addition.
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