An Indian pick-me-up made with strong black tea (usually Assam), milk (buffalo, if you seek total authenticity), sugar and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and pepper, chai converts pretty much everyone who encounters it – be they riding a train in West Bengal or nursing a hangover at a boutique festival.
Careful, though – often chai is the first step on a longer path to “finding oneself”. Yoga comes next. In certain extreme cases, people have even been known to purchase books by Deepak Chopra.
Like any ritualised refreshment that’s been around for hundreds of years, chai comes in numerous subtly different modes according to region and vendor. Over here you can buy ready-made teabags from just about anywhere, although enthusiasts swear brewing your own is worth the effort. Just sip from a traditional earthenware cup and try to remember where you put your backpack…
* Or to be specific, since “chai” is the generic word for tea in several countries, “masala chai”