Saturday, December 5, 2009

Adagio in the snow

It's snowing! It's sticking! The kind of snow that goes on for a while, slowly drifting down coating every twig and branch. The kittens are wild! It's almost as good as a mouse. Well, maybe.

I know I have complained about chai that doesn't taste like chai to me and that it has to be a certain way or I won't like it but I found a chai that is a bit nontraditional that I do like. It is Adagio's Thai Chai, which I received in a tea swap. The dry mix is very mixed with what looks like lemongrass, lemon or orange peel, cinnamon and other spices. It smells lemony with a very clean clear spiciness. I brewed 2 teaspoons for about 5 min at 212. The scent basically remained unchanged. The tea seems to be a good basic black, with very nice well blended and well rounded spices. The lemongrass gives it a good fillip. Instead of milk and sugar, I added some eggnog to it and it was super. Well done.

Now we will do the not so good Adagio Masala Chai, which I got in the same swap. The scent was much sharper with more of a citrus bite. In fact, there were a lot of citrus peel bits in it. I brewed it the same way I did the other and it continued to smell fairly good. Plain, it was awful! Far, far too much lemon peel, no spice. I added a teaspoon of sugar and some milk, hoping it wouldn't curdle, and that really toned down the lemon peel and brought out the spices, but it still wasn't very good. I've had many that are far better.

Does anyone know for sure what countries traditionally drink chai? We all know that it is an Indian drink, but are there other South Asian lands that also have drunk it for an extended time i.e. not just a current phenomenon? Also, does anyone know for sure about regional variations? Or is it something that varies from household to household? From cooking I know there are many dishes which are considered practically “national” dishes with many regional variations. There are some that are clearly something cooks did to clean out the larder, and the food went on to be standardized. Cassoulet, a French bean and duck dish, is one that comes to mind. Please let me know about the chai.

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