Chai blending workshop
Masala chai, or spice tea as it is transliterated from Hindi, originated in the Indian subcontinent as a decoction of a strong locally grown black tea and select aromatics. As tradition would have it, this blend is prepared by boiling the tea leaves with freshly ground green cardamom pods, ginger root, cinnamon quills, dried cloves and black peppercorn. Plenty of milk and sweetener are added to balance the flavour, and mask any tannins that are likely to be released during the extensive boiling of ingredients.
This humble beverage is thought to have come about during the time of British occupation of India as a means of increasing local consumption of tea. Today, masala chai is perhaps one of the world's most popular and beloved blends; owing to this popularity, there are countless derivative recipes available to suit local tastes. It is difficult, if not impossible, to call any single recipe an 'authentic' version!
Rather than follow a recipe, attendees of our workshop were challenged to come up with their own masala chai blends using ingredients on the tea blending table. On offer was a myriad of fresh organic spices, herbs, botanicals, green and black teas in neat piles, organised in beautiful Girl Nomad ceramic vessels. Some had never seen an allspice berry before, others were fascinated by the appearance of fine loose leaf teas that had arrived directly from the plantation. With access to plenty of ingredients, a recipe card, scales, spoons and a mortar and pestle, attendees had everything available to make their signature chai blend to their personal preferences.
Blending can be hungry work with lots of thinking and measuring to do. Thankfully, our host Thea of Meet Gather Collect had prepared a basket of delicious homemade chai-infused donuts for us to enjoy. We paired these with Endeavour Breakfast and Organic Rooibos to create an enjoyable morning tea experience.
Throughout the meditative process of weighing, grinding and assessing of ingredients and proportions, attendees quickly learned that creating a balanced blend is harder than one might think. What if one ingredient overpowers another? How do I ensure I select the right base tea? To help make the blending process a little easier, attendees got to sample the base teas first, and listened in to our plentiful advice and handy tips on achieving harmony of flavour and appearance in a blend.
It was a real delight to see the end result, with attendees so proud of their wonderful chai recipes that were thoughtfully crafted with both the taste and the aesthetic of the blend in mind. The results varied from a warm rosy rooibos to a robust and spicy Assam blend, fit for a morning wake-up call.
We are always happy to host workshops just like this one, no matter if the group of attendees is big or small. Tea blending and tea appreciation is where we find the space to share our passion. Sound interesting? Get in touch here.