TEA TIME. During our six-week bicycle ride through the heart of India, we started each morning with chai. Five rupees (20 cents) put into your hands a piping hot mixture of Indian tea, buffalo milk, and sugar in a cup the size of a shot glass. The taste was heavenly. We drank a bit again at breakfast, after lunch, at afternoon tea time, and with dinner. Almost any excuse for "tea time."
NO AMERICAN DUPLICATE. I haven't found Indian chai duplicated anywhere in North America...yet. Starbucks' "chai" doesn't even come close. I'm convinced that anyone who can proximately duplicate the chai that is so commonly available in India, they might have a heyday in the American marketplace.
PERSONAL RECIPES. We were told every Indian makes chai a bit differently, and we certainly could taste the variations. The combination of intensity of tea, milk, sugar, and varieties of spices make for a potentially infinite range of taste. Sanjay Sumadre sent home with me a box of Indian tea powder, with which he makes the concoction. He told me how to prepare it. I'm trying...but it's not the same. Maybe I'll come up with my own variation. But for now I'm missing chai.
Photo: David Goodnight of Seattle, one of our guest riders from Hyderabad to Umri, sips a cup of Indian chai...somewhere north of Hyderabad.