The rise and popularity of chai come with a lot of sh!t.
In 2018, I had some freaking good recipes originating from India. I did my market research and test phase for these recipes for 1,5 years (I literally served thousands of chai’s) at an organic food restaurant where I worked. I started this because before I served my recipe, we were serving Chai Latte from … (Big familiar company) and many, many chai got returned. “Can you make it stronger” “Can you add more ginger” “I don’t like the taste” “Is this Chai?” etc. etc.
I was fed up with this and started to serve the recipe that I knew from India. After a while, our guests got really excited about it. So much so, that I asked myself: “If they like this so much, what are their other references for chai?”
So I researched and found out that so much on the market today are big players that come with dissolvable powders. I cringed when the description would say ‘healthy’ or ‘purely natural’ or ‘authentic’ while it was filled with maltodextrins, added aromas, and artificial flavorings.
If you go to India and order a chai, you’ll NEVER see a chai wallah (sort of chai barista) putting a dissolvable chai mix into a cup of milk. And although the average chai in India isn’t very healthy either due to excessive use of white refined sugars, the spices are freshly grounded and you can always ask for no/less sugar.
So after my research, I felt compelled to bring this recipe to the people that like chai. But not only the mix, but the experience of making a cup of chai yourself. In a fast-paced world where everything is instant, it is nice to take your time when you prepare your chai. Add the fresh spices to the (plant) milk, stir and boil, pour it through a sieve and enjoy every step of the process. It’s an art!
I feel that Chai is where coffee was 15 years ago. Where you could press a button on a coffee machine to produce a cappuccino or latte. Nowadays, you don’t dare to start a café without a proper coffee machine at the hearth of your bar, operated by a trained barista who knows how to set up everything with the right beans and froth you a van Gogh in a cup.
So next time when you order a chai latte for €4,50 (or more). Ask yourself what you pay for:
A cup of instant, quantity above quality, dissolvable powdered ‘authentic’ chai? Or a cup made out of freshly ground spices that were artisanally crafted to give you the best quality closest to an Indian chai?
And don’t be afraid to let the café know. Only by the requests of the consumers, the business owners will listen.