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Tea Cup and Saucer


Chai and Connection: Finding Community in India (recipe included)

Updated: Mar 27

In the bustling streets of India, where the chaos of life intertwines with the vibrant colors of culture, lies a hidden gem of connection and camaraderie – the chai wallahs. These humble tea vendors, stationed in makeshift booths along the roadside, serve up steaming cups of chai that not only warm the body but also warm the soul.

My own journey through India led me to discover the magic of these chai wallahs. I worked at a boarding school nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas and I found myself drawn to these tiny havens of tranquility amidst the chaos. There's something mesmerizing about watching the chai wallah expertly brew a batch of chai, their hands moving with practiced precision as they mix the perfect blend of tea, spices, milk, and sugar.

But it wasn't just the chai that captivated me; it was the sense of community that surrounded these makeshift tea stalls. Locals would gather around, exchanging stories, laughter, and sometimes even debates, all while sipping on their cups of chai. It was a social ritual, a time to unwind and connect with friends, family, and even strangers, after a long day of work or exploration.

One particular memory stands out vividly in my mind – the day a friend and I decided to embark on a journey up a rugged mountain to reach a shop that was famous for omelets and chai. The climb was arduous, with each step and turn bringing us closer, but the promise of a warm breakfast and a breathtaking view kept us going.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity we I reached the summit and were greeted by the aroma of sizzling omelets and freshly brewed chai. As I sat down to enjoy my meal, I couldn't help but marvel at the sense of accomplishment and camaraderie that permeated the air. The view was amazing, the food and tea tasted even better after vigorous excercise. It was a reminder that no matter where we are in the world, the act of sharing a meal or a cup of tea is a universal language that transcends boundaries and brings people together.

Reflecting on my experiences in India, I realize that every culture has its own version of the chai wallah – a time and a place where people come together to share stories, laughter, and love over a cup of tea. Whether it's the British tradition of afternoon tea, the Japanese tea ceremonies, or the Indian chai wallahs, the essence remains the same – to foster connection and community in a world that often feels divided.

So, the next time you find yourself in a foreign land or even just in your own neighborhood, take a moment to seek out your local chai wallah or tea shop. Sit down, savor the flavors, and strike up a conversation with those around you. You never know what kind of connections you might forge over a simple cup of tea. After all, in a world that can sometimes feel lonely and disconnected, a little bit of chai and conversation can go a long way towards building bridges and fostering community.

How to make authentic Indian chai:

Equal parts water and milk,

Black Tea like Dejarling, Assam or a premixed Chai. 1 tsp. Per 6oz of liquid.

Spices to taste: Ginger slices, cardomom, nutmeg, star anise, black pepper, cinnamon stick.

Sweetener of your choice.

  1. Boil water and milk with spices until well infused. When milk "puffs" it is ready for the next step.

  2. Add in tea. At this point heat is lowered. Brew for 3 minutes.

  3. Strain into cup

  4. Add your choice of sweetener.

  5. Enjoy!

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