Here in the Northeast, the nights are starting to cool, making it possible to sleep with windows thrown open instead of air conditioning. To me, this signals that fall is on its way. I'm eagerly waiting for the first chilly weekend where I can throw on a sweater and curl up with a cup of tea - especially chai.
Chai simply radiates the sensations of autumn, with its warming spices and hearty black tea. To be proper, it's masala chai we're talking about here –"chai" is simply the word for tea in parts of Asia, though Westerners have co-opted it to stand in for the fragrant spicy blend known as masala chai. But the iced soy chai lattes you see in chain coffee shops have nothing on the real thing!
Origins of Chai
Tea (as in leaves from Camellia sinensis) was not commonly consumed in many parts of India until the early 20th century, encouraged by the British interests in the country. Chai wallahs began serving tea on the go, with milk and sugar in the fashion of the English teatime... more >
The Dushanbe Tea House is no stranger to TeaMuse. Back in 2001, Martha Bowes profiled this architectural wonder of Boulder, Colorado, and in 2009 Christine Rillo visited and enjoyed the tea and atmosphere herself. But Adagio employees aren’t the only people who are inspired and delighted by this teahouse. Examiner.com writer George Peknik was so inspired, he wrote a book about the teahouse in 2004.
Similar to the story Peknik had heard about a fluttering mosque that had been magically transported by Allah from Bahla, Oman, to a nearby city, the Dushanbe Teahouse was transported from Dushanbe, Tajikistan, to Boulder, it’s sister city. The Meaning of the Boulder-Dushanbe Teahouse is Peknik’s chronicle of “Boulder’s ‘fluttering teahouse.’”
Peknik wrote the book for four reasons, which he outlines in the introduction: to inform readers about the teahouse so that they might develop an understanding and appreciation of Muslim cultures; to explore the message behind Dushanbe Mayor Maksud Ikramov’s generous gift; to honor the “citizen diplomats” who helped make the Boulder-Dushanbe Teahouse a reality; and to share the story of Boulder’s reciprocal gift, a cyber café... more >
Cold brewing overcomes many inconveniences associated with traditional steeping and makes green tea more accessible to everyone. Cold brewing by steeping leaves in the refrigerator overnight is a popular, energy-efficient, foolproof way to produce iced tea. During those hot summer months, who wants to steam up the kitchen by boiling water?
Cold brewing produces a different result from hot steeping as the balance of extraction is altered. Typically cold steeped teas are sweeter and smoother, usually having lower astringency and caffeine levels as well as less theobromine for those with sensitive stomachs. It is also quite simple to produce large quantities at a time, unlike the beautiful ice steeping methods gaining popularity with high quality Japanese green teas.
With a multi-hour preparation window however, the overnight cold brewing technique takes advance planning, so the tea is not for spontaneous enjoyment... more >