My quest for the perfect cup of Chai Tea restarts each time I relocate to a new city. The obsession started in 2002, after a visit to Jackson Heights, Queen’s with my mother-in-law where we had a cup of Chai at a sweet shop and it was delicious. [Only eight years, it seems like so much longer…] But, that was not the best cup, it was after a night of celebrating the last night of Ramazan with my friend Zerena and her family, that I awoke before dawn to the smell of what was to be the perfect cup of Chai. The chai had been left over night and re-heated in the morning. Alongside the chai, I enjoyed hotter than hot meat curry, and fasted for the final day of Ramazan.
Years over in London gave me access to Fortnum & Mason teas – TGFOP in my Chai recipe made for a lushious cuppa. In England, so much attention is paid to a cup of tea, it is hard to go wrong – that is a city of tea lovers! However, my favourite chai tea was found in Southall, Little India at Gifto’s Lahore Karahi and others.
Gradually I perfected my own perfect home recipe combining cinnamon sticks, cardammon and cloves with loose black tea and steamed milk and of course honey (never sugar). I remember the first time I served my home-made chai to my friends in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn – it was at my Mother Blessing ceremony. The flavour blending of: 1. spice, with 2. bitter, and 3. smooth sweet was truly divine. I won over a crowd with Kate’s Chai. Soon after I hosted a dinner for the NYANP in SOHO where I served up my chai again – bingo, they loved it! Then in my yearly Mother’s Day Brunch I served up my chai to my New York friends, a hit again.
Finally, I went commercial and started to sell my packaged chai, STIMUL8 at the Brookly Flea http://www.brooklynflea.com/, one Mother’s Day beside my friend, Daniel at Raw & Fine Chocolate . And I sold at Jivamukti Yoga School.
Now, in Hong Kong I have only begun to learn about Hong Kong Milk Tea, thus far Le Salon du Tea, Robuchon http://www.robuchon.hk/ sells the tastiest I’ve tried – but wow is it STRONG!
However, it is Chai Tea that I began talking about, so I will tell you what I have discovered to be the best cuppa Chai in Hong Kong, so far. There is of course the Himalayan Restaurant (more on this in the future) in Wan Chai, but one cannot always be “Cool in the Wan” – http://stylehk.wordpress.com/2010/07/03/why-wan-chai/. But… Cafe O serves a good cuppa Chai Tea – ask for it in the large mug. The loose tea is in a tea sock, the tea is steeped in hot water and steamed soya milk is added. Then, ask for honey on the side and voila, a pretty good cup when you’re out & about and have a hankering.