I was taking a $10 equivalent taxi ride late at night the other day, the driver opened his window at a traffic light and bought some fragrant flowers from a woman selling them in the median at the equivalent of $2. I asked why he would buy those flowers, he said essentially, "I made some money, she needs to make her money and I get a fresh car in return".
There are poor people for sure, but you will not see too many outright begging --they still offer the dignity of exchange of money for something tangible --even if it's tea-eggs on the corner (or in Mexico people peddling junkfood at major bus stops). We seem to have lost some of that dignity, I think. The only think that comes close are the people who try to push you to buy some panhandler advocacy newsletter --I have not seen them in years and that pub was utterly useless.
Is there a healthy balance?
In all seriousness, I have citizenship in CAN and the US. You seem to do alright. I've never tried to open a business, but some of my relatives own businesses. They mostly complain about taxes, and not regulations.
1 cup Whole Milk
2-3 Cardamom Seeds
1 Cinnamon (Add a small bark, nail length)
Breakfast Black Tea (Preferably loose)
Mumtaz Tea (Loose Black Tea) - Available at Amazon
1. Crush cardamom seeds and cinnamon, preferably with coffee/spice grinder, do not use the powder form, lightly break apart the seeds and bark, a few taps should suffice.
2. Place 1 cup of whole milk and spices into a small pot, simmer milk.
3. Add 1 tablespoon of tea. Note that this measurement may be different depending on brand. If you added too much, you can balance it out by adding more milk.
4. Add raw sugar, start with single teaspoon, add more as necessary
5. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, milk will slow turn khaki, once you start seeing microbubbles, tea is almost ready.
6. Use a tea strainer or sieve
Minor note: Many South Asians will add a thin slice of ginger while the milk is simmering. Traditionally served with rusk.
It's tough to get the perfect ingredient ratio without making large batches or using a scale.
Whole milk (or cream) is important for the fat content.
In general my chai does not come out as dark as the chai I had in the Pune region, but does have a remarkably similar taste. As I understand it they sometimes make the base the day before. The color difference could be because of my preparation haste, shorter brew time, different ingredients, or adding too much milk/cream.
The chai in India also has a different mouthfeel. I'm not sure if it's loose spices in the brew or if they add something but it feels almost like pulverized rice in the tea.
> tea using a technique that is unique to the state of Tamil Nadu — frothy milk is pulled with sugar and then combined with black tea that has been brewed separately.
I'm used to this one, and I thought it was the only way until today.
On a related note few months ago a chai wallah from Islamabad got really famous because of his good looks: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/19/blue-eyed-tea-...
Maybe the Internet is ready for "Chai Bae"?
Is it richer? Sweeter? Less sweet? More bitter? More spiced?
I have no doubt this is a tough question to answer... my understanding is every wallah may have their own masala and so forth.
But I'd love to hear your answer!
>I'd love to hear what makes the real thing unique and different!
There is no one unique kind of chai. (Lots of things are less standardized in Indian than, say, some Western countries, like in Europe and the US - though I know there are a lot of variations there too).
A few common ways of making chai that I have seen and had and done myself:
- boil equal amounts of water and milk together, so about 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup water per person
- some people add the tea leaves  (around 1 teaspoon per person, and in English style, one "for the pot" :) before boiling the milk-water mixture, others add it at the end, after the liquid comes to a boil. Depending on strength of tea wanted, people either take it off the gas immediately, and maybe let it steep for a while, to get a bit stronger, or let it boil or simmer for a bit.
 Dust tea is sometimes used instead of leaf tea, but I don't prefer that, though it is cheaper - it tends to make the tea too strong. Can't control the strength as easily, IMO.
Spices (like many others have said in this thread), like pre-made chai masala (not so good an option), or individual fresh spices (common ones are cloves, cardamom and cinnamon, ginger too) can be added while the liquid is heating. The ginger is crushed on a flat stone or using a mortar and pestle to bring out its flavor and juice, before adding it, otherwise it doesn't work.
- Black tea is always used for chai, not green tea.
- Indians mostly (as far as I have seen) drink tea only with milk (made the way I said above, or some variant), not black tea (made with water only), i.e. not the way many Americans drink black coffee.
- Strain using a strainer into cups, add sugar (or add it during the boiling, or no sugar if you wish), and drink it hot. Tall tales while sipping, are optional but allowed.
they did originally use yak butter, and still do, but increasingly do use butter made from cow milk, since it is more available now. Maybe you saw a case of that.
Update: Just searched again and found a few more interesting links. Also, they (Tibetans) pour the butter tea into their tsampa, also a staple food among them:
The chai in Starbucks and its friends is a concoction of spices, very little tea leaves and it is all in steamed milk? Quite a bit of difference between boiled water tea and steamed milk (which is also quite richer).
In Kolkata the Chai often comes in little clay plots almost like mini flower pots called 'bhar.' They are meant to be disposable. And I saw many people break them on the ground when they were finished with their tea.
Here's a nice short read about the tradition if anyone is curious:
Used to hang out regularly at such places in school and college days.
Coincidentally, I was just reading about Masala Chai, recently, got reminiscent, and and that prompted me to start making and drinking it again, after being a coffee and herbal tea guy for a long time :)
Incidentally, US guys (some of you anyway), it's not called "chai tea", just "chai". Both words mean the same (in Hindi and English respectively), so "chai tea" is redundant. Had heard some American colleagues using the former term in a company I worked at earlier.
1 - Take cardamom or ginger or both, and put it in 2 cups of water. ( No need to grind ginger )
2 - Warm the water till it boils, till 30 minutes.
3 - Add Chai to boiling content & basil leaves.
4 - Wait for 5 more minutes, take out the content, filter out the contents, add honey+ lemon to the filtered content.
5 - Drink..
No milk and no sugar.
Do not grind the ginger, this is important, the tea will become too bitter if you grind it.
(I have no affiliation with them, just a fan of their chai and want their business to succeed!)
The term "chai wallah" was used as a jibe against Modi by senior Congress politician Mani Shankar Iyer but the people of India chose the chai wallah instead of the "crowned prince" of the Nehru-Gandhi family with a thumping majority.
Despite being a democracy India has been ruled by the Nehru-Gandhi family (via the Congress Party proxy) for more than 60 years since its independence in 1947.
This is not the first time that a non-Congress party has been elected to power in India. The NDA government was in power during 1998–2004, a period including the Kargil war. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bharatiya_Janata_Party#NDA_gov...)
Modi was not a chai-wallah. His father owned an unregistered tea-shop at a railway station. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/No-official-record-...)
The activist does it all the time.
Also, Modi never claimed he was registered to sell tea.
Had the Congress government been so proactive in 55 years by mandating registration of tea sellers, India would be much safer, more cleaner, and less corrupt.
Fun fact : That activist is from Congress party.
Another fun fact : Such activists do not disclose the exact wordings of the RTI query, they intentionally post ambiguous queries and use the reply to create sensational headline.
I can challenge any of the Modi haters to share their exact RTI queries before they make sensational headline
What does this even mean?
> The activist does it all the time.
Do you have a source for that activist's history of RTI requests?
> Also, Modi never claimed he was registered to sell tea.
So, he claims to be an unregistered tea-seller? Because that would make him a tax evader.
> Had the Congress government been so proactive in 55 years by mandating registration of tea sellers, India would be much safer, more cleaner, and less corrupt.
The Congress is incompetent, no doubt. But does that absolve Modi of tax-evasion now?
> Fun fact : That activist is from Congress party.
Sure. What difference does that make to the outcome of the RTI request?
> Another fun fact : Such activists do not disclose the exact wordings of the RTI query, they intentionally post ambiguous queries and use the reply to create sensational headline. I can challenge any of the Modi haters to share their exact RTI queries before they make sensational headline.
The article says "A Congress supporter and social activist Tehseen Poonawalla, had sought information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act from the railway board about whether there was any record, registration number or official pass issued to Modi allowing or entitling him to sell tea on trains and at stations." I don't really see how the wording here could be ambiguous, but I'd be happy to read an explanation.
I know there are plenty of political shills on online forums, but I think it's our collective responsibility to hold political leaders to high standards of virtue, like truth, something Narendra Modi has been fairly inconsistent with.