November's Chef's Choice is a chai-flavored cookie, featuring spices from one of our favorite local shops, Oaktown Spice Shop, and covered in dark chocolate for good measure. A quick history - chai actually just means ‘tea’ or ‘milk tea’ in several languages, so when we talk about chai flavoring in the U.S., we usually mean Masala chai - an Indian take on British black tea. When the British East India Company moved most of its tea cultivation from China to India, they created promotional campaigns and events to increase local tea consumption. Indian vendors added a variety of spices usually including cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, ground cloves, and black peppercorns as well as more milk and sugar to help cut down on the costs of tea and to provide a more robust flavor. The result was a hit, and Masala chai remains one of India’s most popular beverages. Chai can now be found around the world.
Every chai recipe is different, so there are endless possibilities. Ours contains cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise and cloves. Our secret taste testers have reported that this is indeed a tasty recipe, and that these cookies are possibly addictive. You've been warned. If you live in the Bay Area and want to double down on your flavor intake, be sure and visit Ramans Coffee & Chai in Half Moon Bay, serving some of the best chai available outside of India. You can check out the elephant seals while you're there.