Today is a true Friday tea and chocolate. We have tea and we have chocolate and I’ve put them together in a Chocolate Chai – two of my favourite things. But first…
A few weeks ago I discovered there was such a thing as a “Dirty Chai”. Did you know this existed?
I didn’t. And this made me feel very old and not hip because I found out about it in a very cute hipster cafe in East Van, which is the hipster centre of Canada.
I already don’t feel hip because I don’t drink coffee. I’m that person who goes into a coffee shop and asks for a cup of tea and it becomes a process. It’s sorta ok when it’s a Starbucks. Tim Horton’s is a disaster. But now there’s this proliferation of “artisanal” coffee roaster cafes throughout Vancouver (but especially in the hipster quarters of the city) and I feel like such a weirdo going into one and asking for a tea.
Because even ordering a tea is… well… fancy.
Not English high tea fancy with pretty china cups and extended pinkies. Fancy as in tea with things like rosemary or spruce needles infused into it (or not… sometimes it’s just pine needles in your tea!) and it’s “prepared” for you by a barista and served in a glass carafe on a rustic wooden board. The glass carafe is too hot to touch but it all makes for good instagram photos. It’s also $4 for a cup of tea that’s the size of a thimble.
Sometimes, I just want a really good, big mug of tea. With milk and sugar. And no pine needles.
I’m turning into my mother.
Anyway, I digress. The point is, I’m too old to be a hipster. And a Dirty Chai is chai with a shot of espresso.
Somehow, this seems wrong to me. There is coffee. And there is tea. But there is no cottea. Or Teafee. You drink coffee because you want coffee. And you drink tea because you want tea. You don’t want them mixed together!
But, if you can mix them together… why can’t you mix tea with cocoa? This, to me, seems brilliant and I know I’m not the first person to think of it (not by a long shot). And it may seem completely at odds with thinking coffee and tea can’t be mixed together but.. it’s chocolate.
Now obviously, this isn’t going to work with any kind of tea. It works best with a hot, black tea, especially one flavoured with chai spices like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, etc. And of course for a proper chai, it must be sufficiently milky and sweet – this is comfort in a mug people (you cannot drink this in a teacup)
- 1 chai teabag. I use Stash Double Spice Black Chai because it's the only teabag I've found that has a spice blend i like
- 1 tsp of sweetened cocoa mix or ½ teaspoon cocoa powder.
- milk to taste - I use vanilla soy milk for a hint of vanilla flavour
- sugar or honey to taste
- boiling water
- put the cocoa into your cup and add a few drops of milk - stir together until cocoa is smooth and then add the rest of your milk
- while water is boiling, warm milk in the microwave
- add boiling water and teabag and let steep for at least 5 minutes
- stir in any additional sweetener - remember that chai is usually very sweet and milky but do what suits your taste!
On another note – a tea related note – I finally managed to get my hands on a copy of the classic book The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura. I have heard so many lovely things about this little book that was first published in 1906 that explores the deep and subtle meanings of Japanese tea service as well as the connection between art, design and society.
While I was buying it in Chapters, the very young, hipster cashier asked me what it was about. I simply said “tea” and he shyly asked if I had ever experienced a Japanese tea service (he was of Asian descent but I didn’t ask his heritage). I said no but I was hoping to learn more about it from the book. His face lit up and he said he would have to get his own copy because the tea service and all it’s symbolism fascinated him. And we wound up having a nice little chat.
Maybe i’m not so unhip after all.