Virtual Vegan Potluck – Tea time

Today is the second of Annie’s Virtual Vegan Potlucks, in which a whole host of vegan and vegan-friendly bloggers unite in a big festival of meat- and dairy-free noshing around the globe.

Participants chose a category from a list of menu items (breads, mains, desserts, beverages, etc.), decided on what they wanted to bring to the virtual table, and were then placed in a list organised by Annie (for the full list of participants, please see here).

Each blogger taking part will post their own contribution today, adding a link to the blog before and after them on Annie’s list, creating a chain of vegan blogs that you can, if you wish, work your way through in a massive banquet of vegan delights.

Last time we did this, I opted for the beverages category so that I could write about tea. This time I’ve opted for the beverages category so that I can write about tea.

If you happen to live in the northern hemisphere you will perhaps have noticed a chilly change in the weather of late. In light of this, I’ve chosen to bring a lovely warming chai to the potluck (equally tasty south of the equator, I’m quite sure):

20 years ago I popped off to live and work in Pakistan, thinking I might stay there for about 3 months. Unwilling to leave a country that dished up such excellent tea, I gave up on coming home so soon and stayed on for another year to get in a decent amount of tea drinking.

During my time there I drank a lot of chai. It was consistently hot, spicy, usually sweet, and virtually always delicious.

I can only recall one less than satisfactory chai experience. I was visiting someone, I forget now who or where it was (there was a lot of visiting and tea taking going on), and was given a welcoming cup of sweet chai to sup on. My host, as he was pouring out the chai, unwittingly dropped some of his cigarette ash into the cup. Out of politeness, I consumed both the tea and the ash.

Speaking as one who has tried it both ways, I would strongly recommend drinking chai without the addition of cigarette ash.

I have often tried to recreate at home the taste of the lovely ashless Pakistani chai that I drank so much of back then, but I’ve never succeeded in getting it to taste as good.

Clipper’s chai isn’t quite like the stuff I remember from those days but it is a very quick and easy way to get that spicy, warming, delicious tea taste, and the combination of spices Clipper have come up with is far better than any concoction I’ve managed to mix up for myself. One of the slightly unusual ingredients in the tea is lemon peel, which I think is what sets it apart from other chai teas I’ve tried. The lemon is not overpowering but it adds a little citrusy zing to the spiciness, which I think works very well.

In order to bring joy to your life once you have a packet of this stuff, you’ll need some boiling water, and possibly some sort of milk and sweetener, if you like it that way (although it’s also jolly nice black, in my opinion).

It is highly acceptable served straight into a mug, or from a teapot with pretty china and a few chums to share the pleasure with.

At first glance (or indeed, after a prolonged stare), turning up to the potluck bearing nothing but a box of teabags might seem like a bit of a cop-out. I can’t deny that, I admit that it shows a distinct lack of culinary effort on my part, but on the up side if I’m let loose near a kettle I can promise you a perfectly brewed pot of tea.

As any regular tea drinker will know, there are a few key elements to making a nice cup of tea, and chief amongst these (at least for black tea) is boiling water .

I’m sorry to report that occasionally in a tearoom I have been brought a pot of hot water with a cup and teabag on the side. This has been both painful and distressing, very much like standing on an upturned plug or stubbing a toe.

In a tearoom, even if the water is boiling when it goes into the pot, it certainly won’t be boiling by the time it reaches the customer. Sitting alone in the pot, its bubbly loveliness is wasted on the inside of the pot instead of usefully infusing the tea.

Pouring hot – but not boiling – water onto a teabag is the sort of experience one should restrict to those occasions when one is marooned at the top of Mount Everest.

Following their successful ascent of Mount Everst in 1953, Tensing Norgay and Edmund Hillary take tea out of tin mugs (I bet it tasted pretty good, too).

Up at 29,000 feet, due to a decrease in pressure that results in the water boiling at a lower temperature, a warm slooshy tea-like concotion is the best the weary climber can hope for. (I have this on good authority, although I can’t claim to have tested it out for myself; it’s regrettable, but being in possession of this information has put me right off climbing Everest). Down nearer sea level there are no such excuses for shoddy tea preparation.

Here are my top tips for making a lovely pot of Clipper chai:

1. Get some Clipper chai tea, a teapot and however many teacups you require.

2. Put plenty of freshly drawn cold water into a kettle and put it on to boil.

3. Just before the water boils, pour a decent splash of nearly boiling water into the teapot to warm it.

4. Slosh the water around the teapot while the kettle comes to the boil, and then discard the teapot water and bung in as many teabags as you think you’ll need (one per person, is my advice).

5. When the kettle boils, immediately pour the water into the warmed teapot onto the teabags and give the whole lot a stir with a spoon (and perhaps a squidge of the bags, if you feel like it).

6. Pop a teacosy onto the teapot (such as this delightful creation by veteran teacosy maker, Laine Williams:

7. Wait patiently for around 3 minutes and then pour the tea into cups (personally, I wouldn’t warm the cups because my feeling is that the tea has already done all its infusing, and now I just want it to be cool enough to drink as soon as possible).

If you want to add milk, you might like to glug a slosh of soy or alternative milk (I have tried it with oat milk, which was quite nice, but I wonder if almond might be preferable) into the cup prior to adding the tea. Alternatively, you may prefer to add the milk afterwards, but in any case I don’t think you need to worry about the china breaking with the hot tea (which is, apparently, one of the reasons for adding the milk first) since the tea will have cooled down a little since you added the water to the pot. If you’re nervous about adding too much milk, I would advise adding it after you’ve poured the tea, and just a little at a time so that you can taste it and find the quantity you prefer.

Sweetener is another matter of personal taste. The chai I had in Pakistan was generally very sweet, and I enjoyed it greatly at the time, but when I make Clipper chai I don’t add any sweetener because I’ve developed a taste for it ‘plain’, so to speak.

If you fancy trying this tea but can’t find Clipper chai at an outlet near you, it is available online from a number of websites, including the Clipper site, here.

Bottoms up!

image courtesy of thethreetomatoes.com

To visit the blog on the list before mine, Don’t Switch Off The Light, please click on the image below:

To visit the blog after mine, Veganosaurus (which, as it happens, contains a chai recipe), please click on this image:

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Categories: Blogging, Tea, Teacup, Tearooms, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 100 Comments

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100 thoughts on “Virtual Vegan Potluck – Tea time

  1. Wow, what a plethora of wealth and experiences you’ve had! I can only imagine those beautiful foods and spices you’ve consumed and enjoyed and tea is such a personal thing, folks rarely enjoy their favourite cuppa any other way! I love that poster and print, you definitely can’t buy happiness but there’s a lot of things which are kinda similar and yes, tea is definitely one of them!

    • Thank you, you’re right Alice, tea is a very personal thing and I appreciate that the way I make tea might not suit someone else (but I still think I do it properly!). It’s a great poster that, about the happiness, isn’t it? It made me smile when I saw it.

  2. Just lovely, Lorna! I am so glad to sip with you again this year at the potluck!

  3. I tried my first chai latte the other day but I’m not a big coffee drinker so I’m excited to try chai tea! lovely blog you have here, it’s made me want to go and make a cuppa and sit and browse for awhile :) lovely!

    • Thank you! Delighted to have your company, and I’m really glad you’d like to try chai tea. I like a chai latte myself, but I often find it a bit sweet, and the nice thing about this one is you can sweeten is as much or as little as you like.

  4. Chai tea? Yes please. But hold that ash!
    Thinking of you and sending love xx

  5. PS – That Tea Cosy and I are in love :P

    • It’s adorable, isn’t it? Laine makes all sorts of marvellous cosies, she is a cosy creator extraordinaire. By the way, I haven’t yet tried your chai recipe, but I might find that it replaces these teabags (although, mind you, my lazy self will probably always keep some in the cupboard).

  6. Love the tea quote!
    Here is South Africa, we have a local tea called “rooibos” tea. I think the rest of the world calls it redbush tea.
    The health benefits seem to be equal to green tea but it tastes much better (I think). It is so tasty, there is no need to add milk or sweeteners. I will definitely be making a pot soon and have a cup on your behalf.
    Thank you for the great post.

    • Thank you for your comment, and indeed for mentioning rooibos. Your comment made me yearn for some and I’ve just finished a nice big mug of it. Here’s to tea!

  7. I found your post to be very interesting, thank you. I am now going to have a cup of tea, I think!
    I have tried Clipper tea- one of my local supermarkets stocks it but I haven’t tried their chai. :)

    • Hurrah! Thank you kindly, I hope you enjoyed your tea. Clipper chai can be a bit difficult to find. My local supermarket stocks their ordinary black tea and green tea, but not the chai. Whenever I see it somewhere I get very excited. I hope you can find it okay.

      • Thank you! I tried the Clipper white tea. I do like Chai, so I will look out for it.
        I love the photos of your cups and saucers. I have a blue and white teapot and cups, similar to the one in your pic.

        • Lovely! Blue and white china is a real classic, isn’t it? That teacup and saucer are Spode, and apparently my great grandfather used to have the same china in his house. My mum remembered it from visiting him and when she saw that teacup and saucer in a second hand shop she bought it as a happy memory and has passed it on to me. I’m very pleased with it. :-)

          • I can understand why you are very pleased with it. What a lovely gesture by your mum.
            My mum has some Spode serving platters, and a dinner set. They are stunning. They are merely ornamental at the moment. I am encouraging her to use them.

  8. Chai is one of my favorite drinks. I discovered it about ten years ago and kicked myself for not trying it sooner. I’m trying to make up for lost time now. And yes, it is getting chilly. I love it! I’m not a summer fan.

    • Discovering chai is a great occasion in life, I’m delighted that you found it all those years ago and have been enjoying it ever since. I must admit that the crisp autumn days are very lovely. Pop a hat and scarf on and bob’s your uncle.

  9. What you may lack in culinary effort has been exceeded by your writing ability, Lorna. This is a terrific post (even if I did read it as I drank my morning coffee. And, just as you can produce a perfectly brewed pot of tea, I do make a darn good cup of coffee.) So, here’s to hot beverages of all sorts!
    And one day, I might even try a cuppa chai.

    • My dear Robin, you’re too kind, thank you. There’s nowt wrong with a nice cup of coffee and, as you say here’s to hot beverages of all sorts!

  10. Thanks for that information, I’m going to try and get some Chai tea this weekend. I found a store in Canada called the “Scottish and Irish Store” which sells all kinds of things including tea (and chocolate Hobnobs!). They have the decorative tea packages that you had pictures of in your post about teas for waking hours. Soy milk seems a lot better in tea than almond milk, to me. I love almond milk on it’s own but I have to put a lot in tea for the flavour to come through. The soy milk I use has a nutty taste that compliments all the teas that I drink. Do you ever go back to Pakistan? I’ve always thought it would be a lovely place to visit and now that you have told us about the Chai tea (without the ash!) it sounds even better!

    • Oh that’s great, I hope you can find some chai tea (and perhaps some chocolate Hobnobs to dunk in it….it’s ages since I’ve had those). I must admit that I’ve never had almond milk and so I don’t really know what I’m talking about on that score, I just thought the idea of almonds with chai was a nice one. Your nutty soy sounds ideal though. I’ve never been back to Pakistan, but it would be interesting to revisit one day. I think some things have changed quite a lot since I was there, certainly in terms of safety for ex-pats.

  11. Oh, Lorna! You crack me up! Pakistan, huh? Amazing! I LOVE chai tea and would love to share some with you someday – and watch a true expert brew it up. Thank you, dear, for participating again this time around!

  12. Food Stories

    Just making my way through the VVP & wanted to say hey :-)

  13. A lovely post, and you did make me laugh! I shall have to try chai tea, definitely. It sounds delicious. The art of tea-making is too often overlooked these days – neither of our girls has any idea about it! I love the fact that you popped off to Pakistan and stayed there because you loved the tea. I can’t imagine what the ash-infused tea must have tasted like but you were very polite! Thanks for such an entertaining read! :)

    • Thank you Jo, I don’t remember not being able to make tea, but I’ve got my mum to thank for that, I think. I hope you can try some chai soon as it’s great in this weather, although this one does have black tea and caffeine in it so it might suit you better to have a caffeine-free one, such as Yogi Chai (available in health food shops). Leaving Pakistani chai behind was a small torture, I’ve missed it ever since.

  14. Tea’s not a cop out! It’s the most important part of the day :) I’m drinking some now as I read your post. Cute tea cosy!

  15. Such a lovely entry! I had fun reading it!

  16. Okay, I finished the Potluck and i’m stuffed, what’s a good cup of tea to help digest all this food?

    • An excellent question! Peppermint tea is often suggested as a good one for helping the digestion, and the same goes for camomile. For myself, I like a genmaicha or roasted brown rice tea, taken black, which slips down smoothly and puts a nice lid on a stuffed stomach.

  17. I’ll brutally honest here Lorna – I am coffee total and have never really got tea perhaps my palate is not truly tuned for tea – so I shall wait for the next round of sandwiches n cakes :D

    • Maybe you’ve not had the right sort of tea? I think you might need something punchy and strong, but if you prefer coffee then why not stick with it? I like a nice coffee myself, I must admit. In fact, I like hot beverages of all sorts, and we need ‘em in this climate, eh? :-)

  18. With the weather turning cold, I’ve been enjoying quite a bit of tea lately! Chai and green mostly.

    • I agree, one of the wonderful things about the colder weather is the need to drink more hot beverages, it gets the thumbs up from me for that!

  19. I love chai tea! :)

  20. What a great idea virtual began potluck is. I am no vegan but after a quick look at some of the recipes on the site I will be trying them. It is also a lovely way to introduce people to some new blogs that they would otherwise have missed. Thank you for that.
    By the way I am a chai drinker too but can’t cope with the really peppery versions of chai.

    • That’s great Heather! I’m not a vegan either but I’ve been astonished by some of the recipes in the potluck, the variety and quality is amazing, and there are some beautiful vegan blogs. As you say, it’s a great way to find new blogs you wouldn’t otherwise come across, I like that about it. The Clipper chai isn’t too peppery I don’ think, I’ll have to take more notice next time I drink it but my feeling is that it’s very smooth. I seem to remember you buying some loose leaf chai recently at a market, is that right?

  21. Sorry Lorna, that should read vegan, not began. My fingers are too big for the keyboard:-}

  22. The everest bit and the Tea cozy are just downright funny! Love this Lorna! I was next to you in the potluck last year, and again, I love your teacups!

  23. Every time I have tried a teabag chai I have always been disappointed, they just don’t compare.

    • I understand that, the teabags are not the same as the real thing, I must admit. I spent years feeling miffed about the fact that I couldn’t recreate that proper chai taste, and that the teabags were a poor cousin of the thick spicy chai I’d fallen in love with, but now I enjoy them for what they are. They’re not the same, but I’ve somehow accepted them and I try not to compare them with anything else. Maybe I can only do this because it’s been so long since I tasted the real thing, I don’t know.

  24. Thank you for taking so much time to educate people like me on how to properly enjoy tea. I love your stories and I think I’d rather enjoy a cup of perfectly brewed tea at a potluck.

    • Thank you for taking the time to leave such a lovely comment! Maybe a cup of tea will be what’s needed amongst all the fantastic foodstuffs we’re all scooping up.

  25. What an excellent recipe! I’m with you in preferring an unwarmed cup. :)

  26. Nothing like a nice cup of tea – love your post :-)
    Thank you!

  27. Lovely post Lorna! And I really need to try this cup of chai!!

  28. Ooh chai, I loved this when I was in India. Hot sweet rich and spicy. But you’re right, hard to replicate and great after a curry! I think it’s something to do with the milk…buffalo maybe? My latest post is about a Cornish Cream Tea and how to ‘cowgirl up’ to making scones!..I linked to your blog so hopefully some of my visitors come to you.

    • Thank you very much, I read your article with great interest! It certainly was buffalo milk in Pakistan, and I have wondered if it’s the same in India. Mmmm a curry and then chai…sounds wonderful.

  29. Lorna, I echo all those above who’ve said how entertaining and educational this post is! Thank you very much. I remember some years ago being struck by the sudden appearance of something called “Oregon Chai” here in Aberdeen. Being from Oregon myself, and never having encountered chai tea there, I did try some – and thought, never again. But now I see that there is much more to it than that. You’ve actually just about convinced me to give making it a go.

    I love your very regretful description of being brought hot water in a tea-serving establishment. You sound a bit like Miss Jean Brodie who remarks witheringly that chrysanthemums are such “serviceable flowers”. Very funny!

    • Thank you very much Christine! I’m sorry you’ve had such a bad chai experience, I do hope you can have a good one to change your mind about it. It does vary quite a bit, I’ve found. I must confess I’ve never heard of Oregon chai before though. I’m most amused at you comparing me to Miss Jean Brodie, because my mum sometimes does the same thing. I love the quote, such a wonderful put down!

      • It tickles me that I’ve had the same profound insight as one of your Delightful Assistants! By the way, I’d love to know how the Birnam Fayre (Fair?) was. If you feel like telling us that is.

        • Thank you for asking Christine, it was a bit of a washout! I did sell things but I made a loss overall, as did many other stallholders. The problem was the lack of punters, it was very quiet all weekend, and there was nothing much we could do about that. Never mind, it was an interesting experience!

  30. I’m not sure that I’ve ever had a proper cup of tea, especially now that I see the steps you need to follow! I’ll try this right away since it’s starting to get cold and tea sounds wonderful. This is a fantastic post – thank you Lorna!

    • Thank you kindly, Meg! I do hope you can have a proper cup of tea and enjoy it in the cold weather. This is only my opinion about how to make it, but however long you leave it to brew, you do need to use boiling water, I think that’s the most important thing. My sister likes the teabag whipped out almost as soon as it’s had water put on it, whereas my mum will happily let it sit there for 10 minutes before pouring it out, so the strength is a very personal matter.

  31. Hey, you’ve made chai too! Awesome!!! LOL

    People around me keep going on about coffee, it’s so nice to find another person who is passionate about tea like I am. :)

    Your china is so pretty and that tea cozy is adorable.

    • Well, I ‘made’ chai, you made it properly! I was most impressed with your post. Thank you for your kind comments, I don’t deserve them, but they’re much appreciated. :-)

  32. Oh and I’m looking at your level of politeness with a mixture of shock and admiration. If someone dropped cigarette ashes in my tea, I’d probably have freaked out and refused to drink it. Haha

    • Ha ha, it’s pretty horrible isn’t it? I was on my best behaviour. Being considerably older and stroppier now, I don’t suppose I would put up with it in the same way if it happened again.

  33. Very good post.

  34. That was a proper tea education! I love Chai tea, even though all I’ve had was from random leaves and bags and never any authentic. I once tried to make my own, but it wasn’t very exciting. I’m sure the real thing is incredibly better.

    This summer, I discovered a lwonderful shop near some of my piano students:
    http://britishislesonline.com/. Whenever I go, at least a few British people are stocking up on favorite “soul” foods. I was sure I’d seen Clipper tea there, but it’s not on their website. Still, I did finally get to taste both versions of the Flake bar and some Tunnocks Tea Cakes! Delish.

    • Thank you Marian, and hurrah! If I lived in your neck of the woods I’m sure that shop would be a regular haunt, it sounds like just what the Brit abroad would yearn for. I’m so pleased that you’ve managed to taste Flakes and Tunnocks teacakes. Quite a few shops here stock Clipper tea, but strangely very few stock the chai.

  35. What a delightful post Lorna…and so “spot on” about how challenging it can be to get a great cup of tea. Your directions are excellent, yes, but your descriptions are deliciously witty. I laughed out loud several times reading your experience with chai in Pakistan (you have such a varied, interesting and brave life)…and your descriptions on how to make a great cup of tea should be published in the beverage making area at every kitchen claiming to serve tea. Thank you!!!!

    • Thank you very much Linda, I take that as a great compliment coming from you, such a tea afficionado. :-) As for having a varied life, it doesn’t always count in my favour. My CV is a cobbled collection of myriad jobs and I often wish I had more stickability, but wherever I am there’s greener grass everywhere else!

  36. Chai tea is delightful and i really enjoyed reading your do’s and don’t’s about tea. Tea is a wonderful thing. I can drink both coffee and tea but there are just some occasions that call for a cup of tea. We watch some of the British shows like “Rosemary and Thyme” and we always get a chuckle when the answer to a crisis or a certain time of day calls for putting the kettle on.

    • Thank you Alison, I’m in complete agreement with you, tea and coffee both have their places but there are times when tea is the very felllow. It’s absolutely true about tea being the first port of call in a crisis. I often turn to it, for myself and for others, in times of stress, trauma, irritability, and many other conditions. If there wasn’t tea I don’t know what I would do.

  37. Fabulous tips, thank you! :-)

  38. I’ve never tried Clipper tea… but now I will hunt around for it! Thank you for sharing!

  39. I love this post and all the info and all your little tea cups are adorable!!

  40. That sounds great, I love chai tea! And thanks for your tips :)

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