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How we make our Masala Chai


How do you develop a recipe for chai? If you’re Aldea Coffee and you’re looking for an authentic method you might use organic herbs and a hammer.

Aldea Coffee is now offering chai at their shop at The Armory building in Grand Haven. No one can ever say Aldea isn’t deliberate. Despite steady demand for chai, they’ve taken their time and searched for a recipe that will fit their menu and philosophy.   

“There’s not a week that goes by without someone asking for chai,” says coffee shop manager Angie Stone. “We finally found an authentic recipe that we’re comfortable with.”

Stone scoured various sources for a recipe that she felt right, and most importantly that tasted good. She was inspired by Monisha Bharadwa, an Indian chef, food historian, and author living and teaching in London. Bharadwa is dedicated to the appreciation of Indian cuisine and teaches a series titled “The History of India Through Its Food”. While researching, Stone found along the way that the process of making chai can be unique. She found a YouTube video (embedded below this story) of an Indian man smashing the ingredients with a stone on a brick. Showing her resourcefulness and in an homage, Stone smashed the ingredients with a hammer.

What is Angie smashing with a hammer in the kitchen at Aldea? Whole black pepper, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, and full clove, that’s what. The result is a mix of scents that penetrate the nose with exotic aroma. The spices are added to the black tea to make chai. Of course, milk can be added to make a latte. The organic spices are from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Chai goes back more than 5,000 years to Asia when people started sipping a brew made from dried leaves and spices. Some people called it “chá” (which literally translates to tea) and others named it “te”. They both mean the same thing, which is why you should never ask for “chai tea”, you’re being redundant redundant.

Today in India you'll find countless "tea stalls" lining the streets or even on train platforms. The chants of "garam chai!" (hot tea!)  can be heard as tea vendors gather customers for their drinks.

Why does Aldea Coffee call their new drink Masala Chai? Masala literally means "blended spices", that's why.

Aldea Coffee offers their chai alone, as a latte, or with various types of milk. There are numerous chai drinks you can get. You can also have a “dirty chai”, which is an espresso with chai. Visit The Armory in Grand Haven to taste the new Aldea chai. And if Angie is swinging her hammer, make sure to stay clear.


2 comments


  • Nancy

    Charming origin story.


  • Tawny Sprite

    Very cool video!!! Wondering if you can give me the names of all those spices he used? I could only tell what a couple of them were. I’m especially interested in the big white one with the fibers.


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