Chai Machines Types

Making a good cup of Chai (Indian-style Tea) requires addition of right quantites of ingredients (water, milk, spices) at the right times followed by boiling all of them together. Approximately 5 minutes to make a cup and need to constantly monitor to avoid boil over makes it an involved process. Consequently, outside homes, people resort to Machine-made Teas or pre-prepared Chai stored in flasks or Urns.  This blog provides a quick overview of the existing methods employed to deliver Chai outside homes. 

Premix-based Machines

This technology is at least 3 decades old. These machines mix hot water with a mix of spray-dried milk, spray-dried tea, spray-dried spices and powdered sugar.  

Advantages

Disadvantages

Quick – dispenses in 10 seconds 

Tastes artificial and far from real Chai 

Inexpensive – INR 2-3 / cup 

Not hot & leaves a residue on tongue 

Available in multiple spice (spray dried) flavours 

Stored milk powder and sugar attracts cockroaches and flies

Liqueur-based Machines

These machines are filter coffee machines in disguise. Just as filter coffee machines prepare coffee by mixing hot milk with coffee decoction, these machines prepare Chai by mixing hot milk with stored Tea liqueur.  

Advantages

Disadvantages

Quick – dispenses in 10 seconds

Non-homogeneous, light and smelly Chai

Variety of Spices

Uses processed (spray-dried) spices

Uses fresh Milk

Milk vessel is difficult to clean and stinks after a few uses

 

Creates wastage as Tea liqueur needs to be flushed every few hours

Teabag-based Machines

These machines dispense a mix of hot water and warm milk in a cup.  The user then grabs tea bag and dips it multiple times.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Variety of Tea bags (ginger, cardamom, masala)

Tea is light and not homogeneous as the tea leaves are not boiled

Variety of beverages (Tea, Coffee, Lemon Tea)

Time consuming & inconvenient as it requires dipping tea bags multiple times

Available in multiple spice (spray-dried) flavours 

Not hot so needs to be microwaved or steamed

 

Expensive as usually using 2-3 tea bags for a cup need to be used

Pre-prepared Chai stored in Vessels

To save effort, Chai is pre-prepared in bulk (~1 – 20 litres depending on the need) and stored in flasks or heated or non-heated vessels.  

Advantages

Disadvantages

Quick as Chai is pre-prepared. Just open the tap and fill

The flavour & freshness disappears within a few minutes of storage

 

Inconsistent taste from preparation and storage.

 

Cleaning of these vessels is difficult and after a few uses then stink of milk

 

Wastes a lot of Tea if not consumed

In short, machines present an efficient and effective way to make Chai but fail terribly at providing the authentic taste that we want in our Chai.  The real method of making Chai is too slow and involved thereby making it impractical to put to use outside homes.  Pre-prepared and stored Chai option makes Chai taste bitter and stale within a few minutes and creates a lot of waste.  

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