The key to chai is the balance between the spice and experimenting allows you to begin to realize how you are constructing layers of flavours. For example when making chai this about the first steps; blooming which has more to do with chocolate. It happens when you open the cupboard to find an unopened bar with whitish film discoloring.
The whitish layer is what is known as chocolate bloom. There are two types of chocolate bloom: fat bloom and sugar bloom. The fat bloom is usually caused when the chocolate is exposed to high temperatures and then allowed to re-set but can be a result of improperly tempered chocolate.
The second type of bloom is sugar bloom. This can be seen in chocolates that have a speckled appearance, rather than an even layer of white on their surface. It is caused by an excess of moisture that actually causes the sugar in the chocolate to crystallize.
But the bloom in chai is different and is used to bind the ingredients and draw out the mixture, so they get warmed up and the sugar binds them. There are steps in the process that are all inherent to making a better tasting tea. You should not add the citrus at the beginning but not at the end. The timing is key for the flavour compounds to meld and blend in a more coherent way.
It’s the same as building a curry from scratch. The onion at the beginning to create a base and later you add slowly but surely the spices to build layers of taste.
So this time I tried to add cinnamon at the end and there is no doubt that the cinnamon is more obvious and catches your immediate attention. The species such as cloves are all a part of the development of the tea and you can compress the flavour commands according to time and temperature.
Now for expanding the taste there is no doubt that vanilla can be a good choice to add and some chai makers use a bouquet garni to soak inside the tea base. I prefer to add it all and let the particles float and find their own destiny. The end result is a strained tea and if you enjoy some small amount of particles, it’s up to you.
Mortar Pestle or a surdachi: http://mesubim.com/2013/01/13/suribachi/
-ginger fresh grated