Chai is enjoyed in India in cities and the smallest of villages, and usually is offered to every visitor to a home. In Northern India, where Chai is the beverage of choice, tiny tea stalls line the streets where all day long "chaiwallas" (tea vendors) brew and serve tea. Chai is usually brewed very strong with lots of sugar and milk and is often concentrated. Traditional Indian Chai combines rich black tea that is boiled in milk and flavored with local spices such as sweet cinnamon, sharp clove, penetrating cardamom, and occasionally black peppercorns, pungent ginger and hot red chilies, and then sweetened with sugar. This spicy tea is brewed in a samovar - type vessel and is always served very hot. Hurried customers often pour a little Chai in the saucer to cool it before drinking. For our interpretation of this classic Indian drink, we blend organic Assam black and green tea, and organic cinnamon, clove, ginger and cardamom. The brewed tea is very aromatic with a flavor that is slightly sweet, strong and penetrating, with rich, full bodied lingering flavor notes. This tea is very pleasant plain, or with a splash of milk (regular or evaporated) and sugar added. It is exceptional any time of day, as a rich morning cup, an enjoyable dessert tea, or as a special taste treat. Assam is the birthplace of Indian tea and the largest tea growing area in the world with more than 2000 tea gardens.
The Stash Tea Company is a privately-held company headquartered in Tigard, Oregon, a suburb of Portland. Founded in 1972, Stash Tea originally operated out of an old Portland Victorian style house, supplying loose herbal teas and bulk herbs to natural food stores. Starting in 1975, the company broadened its focus to include bagged teas and then began to sell a full line of traditional, specialty blend and herbal teas directly to fine restaurants and through a mail order catalog to consumers.
Today, Stash Tea is one of the largest specialty tea companies in the United States. The company derives its name from an entertaining aspect of tea folklore. In earlier centuries, tea was a valuable commodity traditionally transported by clipper ship. The ship's captain often was presented with some of the finest teas for his personal use. This supply was his "stash," stowed carefully as his "private reserve". Today, the term is still used to denote anything put away carefully because of its preciousness.
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