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The kettle whistles softly, but with growing urgency. I lift it off the burner and pour the boiling water into my mug, letting it saturate the tea bag. I watch as the fragrant spices begin to stain the liquid a rich red-brown.
I take a deep breath of cinnamon. The steamy warmth fills my nostrils and exudes a sensation of utter comfort. Wrapping my fingers around the red ceramic mug, I feel my heart-rate slow.
I could say this is a ritual, but it feels more like a relationship.
Drinking tea is one thing. But finding that perfect blend – the one that captures your intrinsic, largely unconscious desires – is another thing entirely.
For me, that blend is chai. I did not find chai tea. Rather, chai tea inserted itself into my life with the slyness of a well-trained spy. But it’s not just any cup of chai. No. There is a specific process.
The brew sits for ten minutes. Ten minutes that leave my patience fraying at the edges. Then the honey slips sluggishly into the mug. I create a whirlpool with my spoon so that it dissolves, lending its sweetness to the pungent flavour of the tea.
The milk goes in next. Just a little – till the dark brown becomes the colour of wet sand. As always, my first taste is met with a flutter of excitement and a rather foolish smile.
I leave the tea bag in. Letting the steeping continue even as I drink, growing more and more powerful as I reach the bottom. My last sip is like finding an unexpected Christmas present hidden way back beneath the tree. It’s satisfying, and yet so perfectly tantalizing I am left wanting more.
It’s a mocking reminder that chai has become a fixture in my world. And it’s one that’s here to stay.