Rishi Tea hosted a special launch party in Chicago this week for a new product, a Masala Chai tea concentrate. The creation and marketing of this stuff focuses on its green and sustainable background; it's made with organic, wild-grown, single-origin black tea, and traded fairly. Proceeds from the sale of the Masala Chai benefit Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots youth program, and Ms. Goodall herself was on hand Wednesday at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (and then wound up in interviews throughout the local media, such as this one).
So hooray for all that do-gooding, but here's the real deal about the new Rishi chai: It's delicious. It comes in rectangular cartons like soy milk, so you can keep it on hand and grab it when you crave a chai without the fuss of boiling and brewing. Simply combine equal amounts of the chai concentrate and your choice of milk and heat. The flavor is strong without being overpowering — that is, the spices are balanced perfectly, no cinnamon hogging the spotlight.
Though as I've been working through a carton of the stuff during the last month I actually haven't used it to make many drinks. Here's what else I've used the concentrate for, loving every minute:
- A splash goes into the cereal bowl in the morning with the milk. My humdrum a.m. ritual has been transformed, and even the blandest box of flakes comes alive with the chai underneath.
- Similarly, I've added it to oatmeal just before finishing on the stove. It imparts a hearty flavor and cuts the need for added sugars.
- I made a basic pound cake a while back, and I cut back on the cooking liquids slightly in order to cut in some of the chai concentrate. The flavor delivered a wonderful autumnal edge to the cake (which was perfect with some Bailey's whipped cream).
- My favorite thing in the world is now: A dish of quality vanilla bean ice cream with the Masala Chai poured over it. I may gain a hundred pounds because of this discovery, but I will be one happy obese dude.