Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Real Deal (aka Chai Hot Chocolate)...

It's been a while since Australia Post yielded anything exciting. Just the usual, bills, junk mail, uni results (which sometimes belong in the junk mail category). Alas! When a gorgeous girl sends you a sample of her new Chai Hot Chocolate, months in the most magical making, in a wonderfully 19th Centuryesque thick, precious envelope from Canberra, you're far less likely to return to sender than if the package was from The King himself. It's a little bit of a love letter, this one. Anthea, aka The Chai Girl and I, met last year at a farmers market in Canberra. She came into my life a year ago, and pouring in with her came some of the most wonderfully spiced, creamy cups of sunken, CinnamonWarm pleasure I have ever had. And with a sticky spoon of melted honey, too. Oh, Anthea...

I nicked this photo from her website, and it captures the essence of her charm (to a tea). Smiling, generous, kind and really inspired about her sacred endeavour to rock the Way You Chai. All these people devoting their lives to politics and the environment...[yawn], it's enough to make you sick, it is! But a girl who's devoting her life to amazing tea: Anthea, just speak the word and I will follow you to the ends of the earth. Her original blend of chai, in steaming vats of spicy bon soy laced with whispers of honey, is doled out in fragile paper cups to freezing Canberra market trawlers. They sip, and then they swoon. She pulled the same trick on me last year, wicked girl. I walked up to her stand and asked for a large cup, expecting yet Another Average Chai. I've gotten used to buying cups and trashing them/passing them onto Dan after a disappointed sip or two. However, what followed involved all the usual paraphernalia of ecstasy, time stopping/earth spinning/stars exploding/sinking/swelling/rising etc. You know real love when you taste it, and, my dearest CakeKnifelings, this is the very real, chai deal.

'Chai' is Indian for tea, the spices it is made with are considered very warming and energizing in Ayurvedic medicine. It's a brilliant cup of something warm for when you feel run down, solitary, tender in heart or in flesh, or even when you're feeling wonderful and want to drink your mood. Unfortunately, chai, like platinum blonde, is subject to far more than its fair share of bastardization. People who don't really like tea still drink chai, usually in syrupy or powdered form. Ugh. The spices are so beautiful and marry so well with sweetness and milk that it is quite an easy combination to be taken in by. Very few chais, however, impress actual tea drinkers. Overly sweet, overly spiced, synthetically spiced, dull, coconutted? There are so many ways to do it wrong. If you're happy with skanky chai, I know the Live And Let Live'ers wouldn't try and stop you, but if you only knew how good it could be...If you know good tea, it is very, very hard to find a chai that makes the cup. In fact, recent figures indicate that finding a good man is easier. Anthea's brew is to-die-for-decadent-decidedly-divine fine, spiced, light cinnamon with ClovedGinger in low tannin tea, all handmade, with more love and good vibes than the mid to late 1960's. When she told me she was experimenting with a chocolate version, it was like the moment just before Kurt met Courtney, something big was about to happen...

...and happen it did! The chai hot chocolate is a winner. The night she made it, I bet they saw a star in The East. Anthea finally decided upon putting rich, real chunks of creamy chocolate into her tea mix. It's like ecstasy laced with crack, but more wholesome and tasty, and far less expensive. You brew it gently in hot water for a few minutes and then add some milk to warm and infuse. It is a simply beautiful interpretation of hot chocolate, as it tastes like a tea with a subtle hint of chocolateness, and not like a flavoured hot chocolate. It's Slow Chocolate, Swaying Chocolate, Swimming-Brimming-Grinning Chocolate. Ginger and cinnamon cut through the chocolate sometimes gently, and sometimes with bang, the length of flavour is so unusual and thoughtful. It's ambrosial. WarmingWarmingWarming and so quick and easy to make. I felt really light and dreamy after indulging in a beautiful big cup of this chai chocolate, your cheeks feel so rosy afterward. Dan, too. It has none of that too-sweet taste that goes with most chocolates, and if you prefer it sweeter you can add more honey to the pot.

Making it on a stove top has the added benefit of letting some absolutely lovely aroma waft through the kitchen and into the house. It makes you slow down and breathe it so beautifully in. I made it up with Bon Soy, and the creaminess of it was devout. Hot, sweet, spicy, SilkInMilk. Extravagate (it's a word now) with a few blocks of rich dark chocolate on the side, wash it down with the tea and let a rendition of Romeo + Juliet play out on the Verona of your Tongue. Will was wrong, the course of true love can indeed run smooth, velvety and resoundingly down your throat and into the primal belly of your innermost being. All together now: [sigh].

Good tea is just fucking Great, eh? If you can't get down to Canberra, then you can purchase the tea and the chocolate for yourself here. It's bye bye to bad chai, and with some chocolate chunks to boot. Chocolate should probably infiltrate all things it can, including me and you. mmmm. if I wouldn't! Thanks Anthea, what will you come up with next?

address: PO Box 3220 Manuka 2603, ACT
phone: 0424894627

Whatever it is, mail me some x


Mardi Michels said...

treats in the mail??? you are SO lucky!!

betty said...

i love getting treats in the mail!
im due to receive some chai powder soon actually.. for a product review

i use arcadia chai tea powder right now

and i have a tea bag in my lunch bag that a friend gave to me to try..

this sounds lush though , i'm going to have to email her!

jenelle said...

Im drinking arcadia vanilla chai tea right now!!!Does anyone know where I can buy it in bulk as my teenage daughter keeps drinking it too and its costing me a fortune?

jenelle said...

Im drinking arcadia vanilla chai tea right now!!!Does anyone know where I can buy it in bulk as my teenage daughter keeps drinking it too and its costing me a fortune?