“Don’t ask questions, just give in to the power of the tea…” – Zoolander, 2001
Tea is a symbol of ritualistic relaxation recognized globally. This powerful drink can serve many purposes both physically and mentally.
During my time living in Nepal, masala chai (translates to spiced tea) was my favorite afternoon treat. Water and milk fresh from our cows is gently boiled with black assam tea, spices, and sugar. The end result is a creamy and decadent little cup of happiness. It was honestly, addicting.
Between the caffeine content and the sugar, how can you ask your body to resist? Every good Indian and Nepali likes their daily cup of chai. Something feels missing if you don’t have one or two per day. Just like our cup of coffee in the morning, you can’t go without that chai.
I have such fond memories in my life surrounded by all this warmth. I once experienced the “Tea Tent” at Lighting in a Bottle years ago, it may very well be my favorite tea-related memory of all time.
This “tea tent” was a canvas dome with a tiny entryway which you literally had to crawl into. Upon entering, the tent becomes much larger (horizontally) than it had appeared from the outside. You still couldn’t stand up all the way but that was the charm.
We crawled our way to one of the little tables …
Surrounded by colorful cushions and carpets, they lent their patterns to the Asian/Indian sub-continent. It was all actually very overwhelming at first, my friends and I felt a little silly and awkward, so we sat back and took a moment to assess the situation.
Sitting behind a wooden ground-level ‘bar’ of some kind was a man serving up something delicious. But this was no ordinary aromatic delight, this tea was first poured over a wooden slotted table and allowed to drip down into a trough below. They would then serve the people waiting.
The tables were ornate and beautifully handcrafted, and the tea they were using was high-quality Chinese leaves. Looking back and with further research I came to find out this type of serving is called ‘gong fu’, a common Chinese method.
Watch these videos to get an idea of the Gong Fu tea serving method.
When we finally got the courage to go up to a serving table, the man who sat behind the table switched out for someone else, a fellow festival-goer who had been watching and learning the process. She was blonde, gorgeous, and had an ample bosom hardly contained by her tiny top.
We all watched, mesmerized, as this very attractive woman commenced with the pouring ritual. We fell into a trance-like state, until we finally were each served a tiny cup of tea each, and for free! I only wish that other people could experience such a wonderful act, and highly recommend doing so if you find the opportunity.
Tea can be a useful tool while attending a festival. It’s a much needed reprise from beer, booze, or plain water. Here’s some of my favorite recipes and when to enjoy them best.
In India often referred to as ‘doodh walla’ meaning ‘milk one’ in Hindi, masala chai is best served morning or evening. It can be served whenever a warm cup of high-caffeine content refreshments are required. Oh yea, and don’t call it ‘chai tea’, chai means tea in Hindi, so you’d be saying ‘tea tea’, see?
Masala Chai (aka Masala Tea)
1 cup water
½ cup milk
Dash of chai masala (you find it in an Indian market)
Pinch of black pepper
1-2 teaspoons Indian Assam Black loose tea leaves
1-2 teaspoons of sugar (don’t be tempted to put less, it must be sweet!)
Small strainer or sieve
- In a small saucepan, boil water, then add the milk and return to a soft boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer.
- Add 1-2 teaspoons of loose tea while boiling, and allow the liquid to continue boiling until the color is medium brown. Be careful that it doesn’t boil over! You must keep watch while making this tea.
- Add masala spices and black pepper. Stir in sugar.
- Remove from heat and strain liquid into a small cup. Serve hot and enjoy!
Festival Pick Me Up Tea
Classic green tea – A mid afternoon cup of green will brighten your spirits and have you ready to dance the night away.
Boil water and steep green tea leaves or pouch, steep for 5 minutes, enjoy!
Hot ToddTea (Hot Toddy) – A great night cap or sore throat remedy.
Brew black tea in hot water and add whiskey, lemon, honey, and cinnamon to taste.
Golden Turmeric Tea – This delightful concoction is great in the morning, giving you anti-inflamatory and soothing benefits.
Combine hot water, milk (of choice) honey, turmeric, ginger, black pepper and cinnamon in a mug or container and enjoy immediately.
This magically warm beverage is simply amazing and everyone should try as many types of teas out there as they have the chance to! There are thousands of types of teas and all are great for their own moments.
You might even have an awesome tea story of your own to tell one day! And of course, tea is best shared with others, so make sure to bring extra to the festival to liven up your friends with!