Note: This recipe is part of a year-end series of classic Acquired Tastes from the C-VILLE archives. This one first ran in 2003.
Just like at a true bazaar, there’s a variety of unusual items found up the stairs at the Tea Bazaar, on the Downtown Mall across from the Nook. The Tea Bazaar has become a source not only for many types of tea and nourishment, but also live music and an artsy wavelength. As for the tea, nothing here comes in a paper packet, including the chai, which is Hindi for tea. Typical Indian tea is strong assam tea with milk (Indian milk has higher fat content) and sugar but, as Frankovich found, "it’s very subjective…everyone does it differently." And that includes the Tea Bazaar and their version of Masala Chai, which simply means a tea of many spices. And, in keeping with tradition, it’s a little different every day and even at different times of the day. So, no matter how yours comes out at home, it can’t be wrong.
Tea Bazaar’s Masala Chai
Broken leaf assam tea
Frankovich says there are not really "scientific units of measurement" used to make the tea, so adjust it according to your taste. They use a tea ball when brewing the tea, but you can use loose tea and strain it when it’s done. Blend spices in a bean grinder until powdered. Stir into brewing pot with water and tea and steep 15 minutes until "spices are assimilated." Then add whole milk in equal part with tea (they sometimes use whipping cream to thicken it), and add brown sugar to taste. For added texture, whip the tea until there’s a nice froth on top.