Chai Talk - Discovering A True Chai Stand Master

Wednesday, August 16

Location: Casa de Nicholas
Rating: *****/5

This is a big day in chai talk. As far as I can remember this is the first ever five star rating received by a chai and definitely the first in North America. I've wandered the world from the home of chai in Kolkata to the largest commercial purveyor of chai in Seattle and finally this weekend a five star chai has been discovered.

It came from an unassuming young man who I met in India. He cut his chai teeth on the mean streets of Chandigarh and honed his skills while traveling from one end of India to another and then perfected his technique back home in Canada.

I knew I was going to be receiving this rising star in the chai world and picked him up at the bus station in downtown Edmonton last Friday afternoon. After catching up, Kent was put to work putting our house back together now that our renovations are complete. We had to clear the kitchen so there would be room to make chai but that would have to wait, first was vodka and beer. A night of dancing later Kent stumbled to our apartment and unfazed by a lack of sleep, headed straight for the kitchen. Together we tackled omelette's for ourselves and the other four occupants of our house that night who slowly emerged.

With breakfast out of the way it was time for chai. My current living conditions do not provide many facilities for chai production but luckily Kent came prepared as any good chai chef would. He brought his tea, cardamon, ginger and strainer with him. He set to work making chai for three of us. I watched carefully and had a brief in-service myself as my chai making skills have been notably rusty of late. As the tea boiled on the stove memories of chai stands all over India came flooding back. The milk swirled in with the black tea and foamed up almost to the top before Kent's skillful hands lifted the pot off the stove stopping the blizzard of chai before it could bubble onto the burner. Such chai is not for the faint of heart as it takes time to thicken and Kent was in no hurry. We bantered while the tea did it's tantalizing dance with spices, milk and sugar.

Finally the chai was ready and Kent skillfully strained the now earthy mixture into our waiting cups. The aroma was intoxicating but not overpowering. As I swirled, the layers of spices came through and licked at my senses. I took a sip and knew instantly, this is chai stand chai. In case you are unaware this is the highest compliment that can be paid to a chai.

Our second taster, Jodie, was a virgin to real chai but agreed that this was something special. You could tell by the warm afterglow that rose to her face after a first sip that there would be no more Starbucks chai in her future. As if that wasn't enough Kent went on to prove his chai mastery with another two batches including one for Jodie's mom. All this after spending a night with me and some of my friends. A special experience for anyone and as Kent saw and I thought it might throw him off his form but true as a champion must be he rose to the challenge.

Such consistent performance under pressure and in difficult conditions are the mark of a true chai stand master and I think Kent is a rising star we should all be watching. I for one can't wait to taste another drop of what amounts to liquid bliss. Sadly the chai master is off to Egypt leaving us to boil for ourselves once again. A loss for Canada and a gain for Cairo. If you're in Egypt be sure to look Kent up for a chai.

*A video of Chai Stand Master Kent creating his five star chai will be available soon on youtube. Check this blog for updates.
nicholas, 6:36 PM


Wow. An incredible critique from the Grandmaster Chai Tester himself.

It's safe to say that I'll make you chai anytime you want...too bad you'll have to go to cairo for that.

Can't wait for the video.
Blogger kent, at 7:34 PM  
Way to go kent:)
Blogger 30.45 N,76.48 E, at 5:58 AM  
Hey there Nicholas,

Have you put the video up online yet? I want to make chai myself, to keep me warm and snuggly in drafty ol' London.


P.S. I couldn't sleep so I read all your posts from Auguest 2005 up to the present. I didn't realise how many chai talks you've actually written! They're really well done - I think you should try to submit them to a cooking magazine or something. They're great fun to read!
Blogger Jodie, at 1:32 AM  

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