I love how my friend Rikki from JOYN explains this Indian tradition:
“Chai time” (that’s what the locals call it) is about coming together in community. Everywhere we go people take a break for chai time and if you are in the vicinity, you are invited to take part. We have had chai with our fabric “wallas” (fabric guys), our local shopkeepers, and even strangers! Chai helps to build a bridge between classes, families, cultures and strangers. When two people sit down to drink chai, for a moment they become equal in a world that doesn’t always promote that.
At our JOYN offices we always take a break at around 3:00 to drink a cup of chai together. It is personally one of my favorite parts of the day! JOYN’s residential cook, Jenchup, goes through the office yelling: “Betche Logue” (all my children), chai chai chai!” This is her loving way to call us all into community for a bit of chai and friendship.
A bit of chai and friendship. Love that. And it’s so true. On our trip, we got to experience drinking chai with the locals firsthand. Mel and Rikki took us on a walking tour of their town when we first arrived in Rajpur.
We visited Parlahad Singh’s new home that was just built using money from a JoyCorps micro loan. Parhalad and his wife, Rekka are JOYN block printers. They have four children and were one of the first families to come to JOYN. Their family of six previously lived in a house with one small room and one bed, and they shared the house with their father. They even had to cook outside. Now they have the joy of owning their own home and making it their own!
Even though we were strangers and had popped over unannounced, they invited us to stay for a cup of chai. We might not have been able to speak the same language, but we knew and understood the honor of their hospitality.
You can see a bit of their new home in the back there.
Now, I am not a huge fan of coffee, and I only recently started drinking hot tea (Irish Breakfast with a splash of milk – yum!). But give me a good cup of spicy sweet chai, and it is a good day!
Lucky for me there’s a little thing called Pinterest because I’ve found a chai tea mix recipe that is so good and super easy! You can find the original recipe here (and a cute printable with my revised version here!).
1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup powdered non-dairy powder creamer
1 cup French vanilla flavored non-dairy powder creamer
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened instant tea
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground cardamom
In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. In a food processor, blend one cup at a time until mix becomes a fine powder. (Don’t skip this step or the spices will clump in the hot water and not dissolve well!)
I added about three spoonfuls to a mug of hot water. My verdict: Yum! I sure am glad, too, because this recipe makes more than six cups of chai tea mix! And I think I like it better than my local coffee shop’s version. And that, my friends, is saying something.
It’s not quite as authentic as what we drank in India, but it is GOOD. (I think it’s probably all that sugar. Or the second teaspoon of allspice that wasn’t in the original recipe!)
Chai time may just become an afternoon tradition for me (and whichever of my co-workers I can convince to take a break !). A real-life tea party would also be a great excuse to get together with your (in)RL meet-up gals!
What about you? Do you normally take an afternoon break? What does that look like? Do you invite others to take a break with you?