a cuppa chai…

There’s nothing like a cuppa to start off your day right, see you through the afternoon sleepies, or even to end your day properly. Especially when it’s a cuppa chai… but it has to be the right kind of chai!

When I moved home from PA, I had trouble finding my favorite chai, Tazo, in the grocery stores. Yes, I knew you could get it at Starbucks, but I persisted in checking all the other stores. And the only Tazo Chai that I found was in those boxes of pre-mixed liquid tea. I’m sorry, but I object to buying that stuff, as it’s loaded with all sorts of extra sugar and stuff. Better to find the tea bags and add Splenda.

So, I tried out a few other brands, just for kicks, and discovered that they all tasted like air freshener. Ok, I’ve never tasted air freshener, but these teas taste like air freshener smells… just like rose-flavored Turkish Delight tastes like soap. I tried to force myself to drink them, but just couldn’t manage it.

I’ve always liked spicy teas. While I can’t handle a lot of spiciness in food, it’s a totally different ball game when it comes to tea. Years back, I started off with Hot Cinnamon Sunset tea, from Barnes & Noble, though I never knew what the exact ingredients were. It was supposed to taste like the liquid version of a fireball (that’s a type of lolly, Aussies). And from there, I found Tazo Chai, where I thought it was so odd that the ingredients included black pepper… when I hate black pepper in food. It sounds terribly wrong to have it in tea. But it works! I don’t know why.

And so, here I am in Australia, and looking through all the ingredient lists on chai teas, and I tripped over a chai made by Nature’s Cuppa Organics. Ingredients listed: black tea, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, black pepper, and vanilla bean. Ohhhhhh. I had to bring that one home with me, right away. And I was right! Every other tea seems to have the other ingredients in them, but it’s the black pepper ones that taste the best.

I did actually look chai up, online, curious about its origins, and those ingredients do seem to be the normal ones in “masala chai”, the term used in Southeast Asia for what we only know as chai. And to someone (like me) who likes to use cinnamon and nutmeg in desserts, eat candied ginger (until my mouth is on fire), or drink spicy ginger beer, this is RIGHT up my alley.

It’s a whole-nother subject, but I really have been trying all sorts of different teas, while I’ve been here in Australia. And trying to be able to recognize them by taste. That would include Russian Caravan (I prefer Twinings to T2 for this), Brisbane Breakfast (T2, vanilla flavor), Melbourne Breakfast (T2, mango flavor), and I’m still trying to recognize the difference between Earl Grey and some of the rest. And rosy tea (which I think is really called Lady Grey), we drink that, too. Definitely has a floral edge, but doesn’t taste soapy.  : )

What’s your favorite cuppa?

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