The Art Of Chai - Indian Spiced Milk Tea.
What is your best Chai Experience??
I will now share mine ~
After a few years now of brewing, sharing & drinking the spiced tea now known as Chai across the world; especially across the vast continent of India I have discovered a Chai Wallah unlike any other I have seen. In the unlikely city of Kalkatta where milk is not nearly as fresh as other rural parts of India or in parts such as Varanassi or the mountains; & I am usually making my own soy chai - I came across a chai Baba standing in deep devotion on the Ganga outside of a Shiva temple known as Butenath Mandir near Shyambazar. It was around Sunset and as I stood there I felt the unusual urge to ask for his photo; albeit he was in no mood to even glance in my way, which made me feel a kind of more genuine respect for the sincerity in his spiritual offerings.
Afterwards I stopped at a nearby Chai shop with a considerably growing crowd of people who waited patiently for their tea. To my surprise, the chai shop seemed more like a Hindu temple filled with sacred images of their deities and a beautifully carved Siva-Sakti statue covered with fresh flowers. Sitting at the seat of this shrine was the Baba from before; still immersed within his ritual like preparation. Without speaking to me, or any other customer who approached or enquired him he continued his work, ever diligent and ever patient without any concern for his waiting customers. Each action, sacred as he boiled the milk, smashed the spices, added the tea and even when he counted the money, he washed the coins in the ganga water he collected as if purifying all that he touched. & When the chai was complete the first thing he did was offer the first drops to the fire and then as the Indians rushed at him chaotically to be the first served; he silently refused them. Finally replying for the first time in hindi, acknowledging in perfect order the people who had been waiting the longest and serving each person accordingly.
~ By this stage; I shouldn't have to say, when I drank that Chai it was easily one of the best Chai teas I have ever tasted (note: a secret ingredient he used also was Rosewater and served in a custom made clay cup.)