How to make chai tea syrup

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57 Responses to “How to make chai tea syrup”

  1. Camp Freddie says:

    I drink Twinings Chai specialty tea myself, since I’m too lazy to make it most of the time.

    IMO, chai masala is correct. Chai is an acceptable abbreviation, and chai tea is a good way of explaining what the hell you’re talking about to someone not well versed in indian cooking.
    I know that if I said chai masala to a lot of my friends then they’d think it was some variant of chicken curry (alledgedly, chicken tikka masala is the most popular meal in the UK).

    If/when chai masala becomes a popular mainstream drink, then I’d hope that chai tea is abandoned, just like no-one (under the age of 60) uses pizza pie anymore since everyone knows what a pizza is.

    Lastly, cardamom is the critical ingredient in Camp Freddie’s orfentik I-one-had-a-half-indian-housemate blend. You also need strong black tea or you’ll end up with milky-spice-water. When making it, you must realise it’s the indian sub-continents version of builder’s tea (very strong, very sweet). If you can get a cheap assam, that’s great. Lots of cheap blended stuff will do. Yorkshire tea is excellent.

    Personally, I’ve never used vanilla, since that is expensive. Cardamoms are cheap. I can get a decent sized bag for about a quid. But then I do live in an area with a very high pakistani-imigrant population. It makes you realise the insane markups on spices in supermarkets.

  2. dragonfrog says:

    HisDivineShadow @41

    I think a DSL modem does actually encode binary data by modulating analog signals with it, and decode it by demodulating it out of those same frequencies. It just handles frequencies above the human hearing range, as opposed to an oldschool dial-up modem, which handles frequencies in the (extremely harsh and annoying-sounding) human hearing range.

  3. dragonfrog says:

    “Mount Fujiyama” – that’s a new one on me. I’ve only ever heard “Mount Fuji”, or sometimes “Fujisan”.

    I’d even go as far as to guess that “Mount Fujiyama” might be incorrect even by the (sloppy, permissive, get off my lawn dammit) standard that admits English is an evolving language and that actual colloquial usage often becomes the new correct form…

  4. Anonymous says:

    “Honey is added, and then the mixture is kept heated, so thickening would be due to reduction* of the liquid to a syrup, unless I am grievously uninformed about one of the spices used.”

    But even the author is only putting a few tablespoons of honey in the mix. Surely you’re not supposed to cook it down until there’s only that little left?

    Also, the fact that she says to add honey “to taste” makes me wonder if it really plays such a crucial role.

  5. Mark Frauenfelder says:

    Gloria, I’ll bet no other language has ever adopted an English word and misused it this way, right? I’m sure if they had, you’d be furious.

    While I wait for your answer, I’m going to read some EC Comics in back of the El Camino.

  6. Anonymous says:

    My one question regarding this recipe (I am Moving On from the “chai tea” “debate”) is, how is the syrup supposed to “thicken” after 20-30 minutes, into a soupy texture. Unless I’m missing something, it’s just ultra-spicy water, and I’m unclear on what the thickening agent would be.

  7. Gloria says:

    @21: I think it’s less of a line of “correct” than “logical.” What bugs me most about these types of cases is that people often genuinely don’t like to think about what they say, prefer to take things for granted, or have zero interest in what things can mean in other cultures.

    If you know what “chai” means and you want to use “chai tea” anyway, then seriously, go ahead.

    I’d argue that using “English as an evolving language” isn’t very relevant here. This isn’t an original English term that’s changing; it’s a borrowed word that was incorrectly used in the first place. There’s no “old” correct term in English.

    Saying that we’ve now created THE “new correct form” is, in fact, a bit of a burn to other cultures. Their terms are just as, if not more, correct.

    ;) I know, I know. Decaf, am I right, @20?

    All this talk makes me wish I didn’t forget my teabags at home. Drinking only water sucks.

  8. AirPillo says:

    Well, perhaps it is being simmered down to that degree. If I get the point right, it’s to make a concentrate to dissolve in milk (or whatever you prefer) to make a cup of the tea, so there’d be no harm in carefully letting it reduce that much.

    I suppose I’ll have to try it myself and see :)

  9. Gloria says:

    @22: Did I say that, Mark?

    “Fury” hardly describes it. I just like mental exercises and word use is a favourite interest of mine.

  10. Gloria says:

    @20: Also, I didn’t know I was coming off as “angry.” I actually genuinely enjoy a lot of the discussions here at BoingBoing. The way I think tends to focus on details, because they fascinate me. Again, as I mentioned, I’m very interested in language and semantics, and when I analyze how someone uses words, I’m not trying to be overbearing, but because I like thinking about it.

    If it comes off as nitpicking to you, that’s not how I mean it and I hope people recognize I don’t mean it that way.

    That said, this isn’t an apology. I don’t expect BB editors (or commentators) to take what I say — devoid of any insults, and usually very much meant as a thoughtful contribution — and then extrapolate what I should be feeling.

    Thanks!

    And :) to indicate I intend to be nice.

  11. Gloria says:

    Oops. That’s @22, as I refer to Mark’s comments.

  12. wizardofplum says:

    Can’t decide whether the prissy posters are picky,picayune or Pecksniffian.So in deference to their particularity I will have cuppa Chai, with a wee dob of tamarind [learned from our dhobi] and henceforth enjoy my Chai Chai. Thankyou Lucy and Mark charming illustration.

  13. Tdawwg says:

    Remember, English is famously the language that follows other languages into dark alleys, mugs them, and rifles through their pockets for vocabulary.

    When it doesn’t bother with a full-scale all-out war of attrition on said languages, that is. English is more like a ravening horde of barbarians than a solitary dark-alley mugger.

  14. Gloria says:

    @27: I’d vote “persnickety.”

  15. Anonymous says:

    The offense comes from the gradation of cultural food awareness among the literate – where detailed knowledge of some foods is expected and any mistake is ridiculed while simultaneously it is entirely reasonable to be moderately to thoroughly ignorant of others.

    Knowledge of wine, cheese and french foods passes as valuable social currency. The more educated you are on these, the better signals you send about your taste, education and class.

    Try discussing with these people the intricacies of a jerk seasoning. Or for that matter, that “chai tea” is redundant. There is often curiosity, followed by dismissal.

    It shouldn’t be any surprise that financially advanced foreign cultures: French, Japanese draw more careful and thorough food awareness than the cuisines of developing nations.

  16. mdh says:

    Gloria, my only suggestion is to pay greater attention to the line between informing and hectoring. If you say six smart things followed by an insult, what do you think gets heard?

  17. AirPillo says:

    I am often amazed that grammar-nazis self-identify so readily. I’ve yet to meet someone who, for example, complains about the causation/correlation issue who would adopt a label like “statistics-nazi”.

    I know of at least one webcomic author who readily would if the term occurred to him. =P

  18. Henry says:

    Yeah, sorry people, but in these things happen when words get moved from language to language. “Latte” means “milk” in Italian. What are you gonna do about it?

    Oh, and my favorite of these: The La Brea Tar Pits. Literally translates to: the the tar tar pits.

  19. Anonymous says:

    With all due respect –

    CHAI means Tea in Hindi, Russian and probably a few other languages.

    So the term “Chai Tea” as a standin for spiced tea is like saying “Tea Tea”. It is weird, amusing and every now and then offensive to those of who understand.

    Culturally sensitive and literate people should not be making this mistake.

  20. Mark Frauenfelder says:

    Yes. It was that “America rules and other nations drool” snark that put me off. Your other points were interesting, Gloria.

  21. dragonfrog says:

    That does look super-tasty. I also love the Christmas-tree-up-the-nose image!

    Interesting that cardamom is so expensive where she is. A good-size baggy of it at the Indian grocery store near my house is just a couple of bucks, maybe a dollar or two more than other spices…

  22. Gloria says:

    @31: Well, that’s a fair point. I didn’t think too carefully about that line about not bothering to inform themselves. I think I put it better in my later comment — the case that people are ignorant *can* be so, but it’s a big mistake to presume it.

    I retract that.

    Anyway, thanks, MDH.

    @32: I guess it’s a good thing we don’t insist on ordering “latte milk” here in North America then.

  23. Gloria says:

    @33: Sorry about that, Mark; admittedly, it was a low blow. (And I’d say that even if you didn’t add any comment about my points.)

  24. PaulR says:

    OK, so this Chai = Tea business is dealt with, I hope.

    Now, all we need to work on is “Egg Foo Yung”. I mean, what else are you going to make an omelet out of?

  25. Franki says:

    (ps I didn’t have time to read all the posts, so maybe this was covered)

    If chai technically means the leaves/spices/milk infusion, can you say chai latte (to refer to milk that is frothed not just heated) and be right? Or do you get v. specific and say if latte simply means milk in Italian then saying chai latte is simply chai (a tea with milk) + latte (more milk).

    In my defence, I’d expect most people to assume that latte is frothed milk.

  26. Sork says:

    Someone needs to tell someone that chai is the same word as tea.

  27. Anonymous says:

    You can make masala chai pretty easily in your kitchen as well. Just put loose tea in a pot (slightly more than you’d use for a brewed cup, maybe 1.5 tsp), add spices like a few cardamom pods, cloves, ground ginger, a bit of cinnamon, black pepper, vanilla extract, etc. A couple cloves/pods or a short cinnamon stick is enough. Then add your sugar, again a bit more than normal for a cup, maybe 2-3 tsp. Finally, add enough water for the cups of tea, put it on the stove and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, immediately add milk, again more than usual, and when it gets to a simmer, strain and serve.

  28. Mark Frauenfelder says:

    You’re on the losing end of that little battle, Sork.

  29. wizardofplum says:

    ” When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean- neither more nor less.”

    ” The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make mean so many different things.”

    ” The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty,”which is to be the master- that’s all.”

    #29 GLORIA. You say persnickety, I say pernickety but it was still a good riposte.

    #32 That’s worth knowing. Another minor faux pas is the use of ‘the hoi polloi’ which is the the hoi polloi. Humpty was right!

  30. freetard says:

    “Chai Tea” is an excellent example of polydundancy- the use of two or more words that mean the same thing in different languages.

    And people who say “ATM machine”, “NIC card”, “PIN number” and the like make my skin crawl. But then, I’m an anal-retentive grammar-nazi anyhow, so who cares!

    Oh, oh! Let’s not forget the sin of those who say “mischievious”, FTW!

  31. AirPillo says:

    My one question regarding this recipe (I am Moving On from the “chai tea” “debate”) is, how is the syrup supposed to “thicken” after 20-30 minutes, into a soupy texture. Unless I’m missing something, it’s just ultra-spicy water, and I’m unclear on what the thickening agent would be.

    Honey is added, and then the mixture is kept heated, so thickening would be due to reduction* of the liquid to a syrup, unless I am grievously uninformed about one of the spices used.

    * – I hate using that term in cooking, it makes me think of redox reactions >_>

  32. Anonymous says:

    I know that this sounds strange, but I envy her handwriting. It’s so neat and perfect! I wish mine were so legible.

  33. dragonfrog says:

    @23, Gloria

    That’s a good question – by what route did “chai tea” evolve? My guess would be:

    “Chai masala” -> shortened to “chai” -> expanded to “chai tea” because many people then wouldn’t know it was tea based.

    Certainly “Chai” meaning plain old tea must have come into the language somewhere, at some time. If nothing else, in the Raj, right? People still use “a cuppa cha” to mean plain unspiced tea, and I’d guess it’s more likely that came from India than from Japanese (“ocha”, if memory serves).

  34. Thad E Ginataom says:

    The language issue has become tedious, so never mind, but I must nitpick one more thing…

    Camp Freddie, Chai and Masala chai are mainstream drinks in this country, and we have 1/6 of the world’s population :)

  35. NidSquid says:

    Also came here to post about “chai tea” being the same as “tea tea” but I noticed I’m not the only one.

    @1: I agree with you that it’s silly and amusing but on the point that it may be offensive to some? That is a bit silly in itself, IMO – it’s really not serious enough to get offended about. :-)

  36. boandmichele says:

    i think this looks good, and i appreciate the information. i will go home and make my CHAI TEA later this week. honestly people. i am both culturally sensitive and quite literate, and would likely call this chai tea. its an americanized version of something, if you can believe it.

  37. doug117 says:

    Amen #1, #2.

    Lost battle though.

    ‘Masala chai’ is proper and unambiguous.

  38. Jerril says:

    Remember, English is famously the language that follows other languages into dark alleys, mugs them, and rifles through their pockets for vocabulary.

    “Chai” may mean “Tea” in various other languages, but it DOESN’T in English. And bitching at the English speakers about it unfortunately not going to change that.

  39. dragonfrog says:

    Never! When I am 90, I will still be charging into battle with my cohorts in Her Majesty’s 12th Correct Usage Fusiliers (Civilian Reserve) (Don’t Worry, We Don’t Give Them Ammunition) Division.

    Our battle cry will strike consternation into the hearts of our foes:

    “It’s ‘I couldn’t care less,’ dammit!”

  40. kjs3 says:

    But then, I’m an anal-retentive grammar-nazi anyhow, so who cares!

    At least someone is honest.

  41. holyalmost says:

    This is awesome, but I needed it yesterday when I decided that it was more economical to pay $11 for Chai Latte Tassimo t-disks than to go to a coffee shop and spend $4 per cup.

    This is even better and I love the presentation. If more recipe’s were in comic format, I would cook more.

  42. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    OK, just to be a dick..

    Did the word ‘carpark‘ (as in parking garage) just get used as an example of English words being misapplied in other languages?

    Separately: in Ireland and the UK ‘normal’ tea is sometimes colloquially referred to as ‘cha’, as in, “would you like a nice cup o’cha?”, presumably coming from the same word. However, most people would immediately understand the differentiation if you asked for a cup of ‘chai’ (no extraneous ‘~tea’ needed).

  43. Denerific says:

    I am often amazed that grammar-nazis self-identify so readily. I’ve yet to meet someone who, for example, complains about the causation/correlation issue who would adopt a label like “statistics-nazi”.

  44. Loraan says:

    With all due respect, the term “chai” was introduced to most Americans a specific form of spiced tea, so saying “chai tea” is meaningful and descriptive to the vast majority of readers. When I visited Singapore, I was surprised to hear a knife referred to as a “cutter,” and a parking garage referred to as a “carpark”. Words are used differently in other countries. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    The redundancy that a Russian or an Indian sees when he or she reads, “chai tea,” is of intellectual interest to me, just because I think it’s fascinating to hear how languages interact between cultures, but I don’t think that it should be suggested that Americans are doing it wrong, any more than it would be appropriate for me to suggest to a Singaporean that he should use the same word as me to refer to a knife.

    And besides, we say, “ATM machine” and “NIC card,” and those terms are native, so clearly redundancy is not just an effect of ignorance of a foreign term.

  45. hisdevineshadow says:

    Oh man, I too logged on to comment that chia tea was as redundant as pizza pie but after reading all the comments so far I fear we need to tackle something more important like stopping the use of sleep as a ridiculous euphemism for sexual intercourse.

    Oh by way! Dragonflog you comment @10 was absolutely hilarious! I wish I could be that clever!

    Also, does anyone else feel it is necessary, when you mention your DSL modem, to follow it with “though technically it is not a modem since it doesn’t modulator-demodulator”? Just wondering?

  46. Mark Frauenfelder says:

    I drink my chai tea in a mug made from Legos.

  47. hisdevineshadow says:

    Correction on previous post. replace “modulator-demodulator” with “modulate-demodulate”. I got in a rush to post and erred.

  48. jerwin says:

    Another source for inexpensive cardamom, if you can’t find an Indian market, is “World Market/Cost-Plus”.

  49. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    hisdevineshadow!

    Pizza Pie! Pizza Pie!

    Thanks, I’ve been saying that for ages, to the angry cries of the befuddled natives. As you have acknowledged, however, it’s a battle – long lost to the filthy colloquialists, so I have resigned to silence.

    And where were DragonFrog’s Fusliers then, huh? Huh?
    /Abandoned

  50. Thad E Ginataom says:

    This is how it is made in this particular Indian household (albeit by this particular Brit!). We cheat, by buying a ready-made masala, but then, when this is what you drink all day, every day, one wants no fuss and consistent flavour…

    Per person:

    1 tsp. tea leaves (ordinary low price; anything fancier would be like drinking fine brandy with ginger ale!)

    1 tsp. sugar

    1 large pinch to 1/4 tsp (depending on taste) tea masala

    50% milk

    50% water

    Put everything in a pan, bring to boil and simmer for a minute or two. This cooking it all up together is important. It should be a rich milky drink. Utterly unlike thin, watery English-style tea.

    This is masala chai; if you want just chai, leave out the spice. That’s the nomenclature, whether you order tea, chai or chaia, here in Chennai, this is what you get. If you want “English tea”, you have to explain, and even then they will probably bring it with hot milk!

    What’s in the masala: ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, clove, pepper…

    Yes, pepper! Gives it a little bite if you add too much!

    Vanilla is a regional optional extra, not usually included. It’s nice, though.

    A London friend of mine called it a hug in a cup :)

  51. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    And don’t think I didn’t catch that Unholy Mispluralization, Mark.

    You and the Doctorow try my patience.

  52. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    Me@40,

    Looks like they call it “cha” in China too..

    http://cupofcha.com/

    Should I have known that? Have I shown my ignorance? Dammit! I don’t even like tea.

  53. Gloria says:

    “With all due respect, the term ‘chai’ was introduced to most Americans a specific form of spiced tea, so saying ‘chai tea’ is meaningful and descriptive to the vast majority of readers. When I visited Singapore, I was surprised to hear a knife referred to as a’”cutter,’ and a parking garage referred to as a carpark’. Words are used differently in other countries.”

    Yes, except “cutter” also logically refers to a knife’s function, as does “carpark” for a parking garage (Americans don’t use the word “carpark”?).

    Saying “Chai” should actually be sufficient, since in America the term “chai” is not used to generically mean tea. Similar to your line of reasoning, saying “chai” should mean the same thing to an American as “chai tea” since they *only* know chai in that context.

    There’s also no need to distinguish chai from other chai beverages — say, chai soda or chai coffee — so that’s another reason why tea” doesn’t need to be specified.

    The fact that people keep saying “chai tea” only signifies that too many people don’t bother to inform themselves. Or don’t care, because America rules and other nations drool. Etc.

    And yeah, I am one of those people who bother to say just ATM and PIN.

  54. Rob says:

    Everybody should go to the ATM machine to get some money to tip sork

  55. AirPillo says:

    BoingBoing has given me two new drinks to make at home this week, this is awesome :D

  56. godisafiction says:

    Especially if that ATM machine is on Mount Fujiyama

  57. godisafiction says:

    Or near The La Brea Tar Pits

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