It has to say something about a drink when I find myself craving a hot version of it yet outside it feels like it's a million degrees and 200% humidity. Air you can wear. Still, I have been drinking chai every night and it is amazingly comforting. It was impossible to walk by the Prana Chai booth at the World Tea Expo and not stop. Front and center they had an enormous bucket of their chai sitting out. That doesn't sound unusual except for the fact that their chai is a "wet" chai and it is coated in honey, so the huge pile of leaf was shimmering in the lights and the smallest stir with the scoop stuck in it started the leaf moving in an unctuous mass. It was pretty mesmerizing!
One of the guys manning the booth handed me a sample and it was as delicious as I had anticipated. I was delighted when he offered a 250g bag of the chai for me to take home. And, here we are with the aftermath of that gift!
The Prana Chai story is, in a nutshell: Two guys traveled the world for a few years, developed a love for chai, made another friend and the three of them set up shop in Australia, selling chai. They make the chai blend by hand, and that's really cool. While honey is a common sweetener for many hot drinks, I was curious about the coating of the chai mixture in it, and I sent an email to them asking if it was for flavor, preservation or some other reason. The next day I received a response from one of the owners:
We add honey for a few reasons.
- it gives the blend a more balanced flavour
- it is a natural sweetener
- it is a natural preservative
- it helps avoid "de-blending" to ensure each dose has some of all the different spices and ingredients
Thank you for your time
Enjoy your chai moments of bliss
Reasons 1 through 3 are pretty much what I expected, but 4 is really brilliant. How many times have you had a great tea blend that you had to be careful to shake up because so much of the "good stuff" would fall to the bottom? I have experienced that a lot. This blend contains a lot of chunky ingredients but the honey helps them not slide to the bottom. The mixture isn't overly sticky - it's really just a light coating - but it's enough that I had seven whole cardamom pods in the first couple of spoonfuls of leaf that i used to make a cup of chai. The photo below is of the second batch, and it contained three pods.
Interestingly, I had a lot of trouble finding the actual ingredients for the blend on the website. Here's the ingredient list straight from the package. They also have a blend that uses agave instead of honey.
I mean seriously, doesn't this look so much more appealing than a ground up instant chai mix? I wish you could smell it!
The package recommends making the chai with soy milk. I'm sure that works fine but it's not something that I keep on hand. A lot of chais are made with a milk and water mixture. We keep skim milk in the house and I figured that's pretty high in water content, so I used that. There are many different ways that you can make it, and probably none of them are wrong. I chose to do mine on the stovetop. I heated it on a low heat because I thought a little extra steeping time would only improve the flavor, right? Aside from stirring now and then there wasn't much to making this. I like the milk to get steamy but I don't like it when a skin forms on it, so I took it off the heat prior to that.
I put a sprinkle of cinnamon on top because it looked pretty, not because the mixture needed it. I added extra honey because I didn't think it was quite sweet enough. I feel justified in this though, because one of the owners does the same thing in an instructional video on their site. So there.
This chai is not a ginger punch in the face, which I consider a good thing. It's actually really well balanced. Cardamom comes across as a slightly floral yet spicy top note. I taste the ginger and the cinnamon, but really it's very harmonious and super delicious and comforting. I tried resteeping it and didn't have a lot of success with that; the resteep didn't have much flavor. To be fair, the packaging doesn't claim to make anything but the number of cups that it makes. I have always sort of hated it when companies count the number of cups you'll get as X number of steeps (and Y number of resteeps) = Z cups from this package! It's misleading, and I appreciate that Prana didn't do that. I may play around with it more, maybe steeping the leaf in water and then topping with milk. Perhaps the ingredients are more soluble in water? I don't know yet. I do know that this first cup was great though!
This chai was featured in Bon Appetit earlier this year, so I expect they are doing quite well! It was new to me though, and I hope this post brings it to a few of my readers as well.Share on Twitter Share on Facebook