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Miscellany: What is Garam Chai?

What is Garam Chai, people sometimes ask us? 

Literally translated, "Garam Chai," means "Hot Tea." To those of us who grew up in India, traveling in trains meant waking up to the familiar cries of Chai.... garam chai! floating above the cacophony as the train would come to a grinding halt at a busy junction. With, we attempt to evoke that nostalgia for desi stuff, community and belonging which, well, only a Garam cuppa Chai can! To see an extensive listing of all our pages, please visit the Sitemap page

Interesting articles:

Americans' Growing Taste For Tea Brews a Market

Karen Rodman started drinking tea a year and a half ago, when her husband complained that coffee was making her too hyper.

Now, she meets a good friend everyday at Tempest Tea, a local loose-leaf tea cafe in Dallas. "I like the brewing thing," says the 49-year-old Mrs. Rodman as she sits on a green sofa sipping a carbonated green-tea drink.

Tea drinking is on a roll in the U.S. There are some 2,000 tea houses nationwide, up from 200 a decade ago. And tea sales reached $6.2 billion last year, more than quadruple their level in the early 1990s, according to the Tea Association of the USA. One big reason: Recent research has shown that tea, particularly green tea, is loaded with antioxidants that supposedly can help ward off ailments such as heart disease and cancer.

Several companies are trying to make the most of Americans' new fascination with an ancient beverage. Tealife LP opened Tempest as something of a Starbucks knock-off: a trendy cafe where customers can get tea on the go or relax on modern furniture. It has just a single store, but hopes to have four by the end of the year. TeaGschwendner USA Inc., originally a German company with more than 130 stores globally, opened its first U.S. store in Chicago in March 2005 and is targeting tea aficionados with exotic blends and fancy brewing equipment. Foodx Globe Co., which operates several tea shops in Japan, opened its first U.S. green-tea bar in May in Seattle, and customers can drink their brew while sitting on floor mats -- just like in Japan.

Teavana Holdings Inc. of Atlanta has the biggest foothold in the market with nearly 50 stores. It brews on site but also relies on sales of tea pots and other tea paraphernalia for revenue. As recently as 2001, Teavana had only two stores. Teavana declined to comment, but its chief executive, Andy Mack, recently told trade magazine Retail Traffic he plans 500 stores by the end of the decade.

These are all weak tea compared to publicly traded Starbucks Corp., which has more than 10,500 locations world-wide and hauled in $6.4 billion in revenue last year. But the coffee giant started with a clear advantage. Tens of millions of Americans quaffed coffee before Starbucks arrived. Starbucks just persuaded them to buy fancier coffee. Tea drinking is still an acquired taste for many Americans.

For years, tea was a time-consuming affair in the U.S. Enjoying the drink meant buying a box of tea bags, heating water and allowing the tea bag to sit in a cup for a few minutes. Tea rooms were upscale places that sold fancy cookies and cucumber sandwiches.

In 1987, beverage company Snapple introduced an iced-tea line, making tea as convenient as bottled juice and soda. Americans' desire for ready-to-drink tea intensified through the 1990s and into the 21st century.

"It took Snapple coming into the business to add some pizzazz and upgrade the product," says Joseph Simrany, president of the Tea Association, a trade group based in New York.

Tea sales kept growing as studies attributed health benefits to imbibing the brew. In May, scientists at Yale's medical school said green tea might explain why Asians have lower rates of heart disease and lung cancer than Americans, even though they smoke more. Calling the phenomenon the "Asian Paradox," the scientists wrote in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons that antioxidants in green tea could stymie disease-causing cells.

At least two business models have emerged among entrepreneurs trying to grab a piece of the emerging tea market. Some appeal to a more high-end clientele. Others push the mass appeal cafe.

TeaGschwendner targets upscale customers with rare teas and accessories. The store sells stylish tea pots, filter equipment, even candles. A distinctive Russian teapot goes for more than $1,000. And while the store sells basic teas, it also offers exotic blends, like a scarce green tea called Japanese Shincha that costs about $350 a pound.  Home brewing is the store's focus, but the American version has added bistros with full lunch and dinner menus to draw in customers. The combined atmosphere strives to offer the ultimate in tea selection and decor, what Charles Cain, TeaGschwendner's operations director, refers to as a "museum of tea."

Tempest founders Brian and Jody Rudman focus on mass appeal. The object is to "present our teas much in the way Starbucks would present coffee," says Dr. Rudman, an anesthesiologist. He and his wife wanted to take out the stuffiness associated with English tea drinking and make it more compatible with the busy American lifestyle.

Patrons can get tea brewed on demand from a person behind a counter; the shop offers salads, sandwiches and wraps. The store offers 75 varieties of hot and cold brews, including 16 bubble teas, the milkshake-like, fruit-flavored drinks that appeal to teens and 20-somethings. - (Mike Spector) Wall Street Journal

The Hebrew "Chai" symbol of Judaism.  

In Judaism, the Chai symbol consists of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet Het (ח) and Yod (י). In the Hebrew language, the word chai (חי) spelled by these two letters means "living", and is related to the word for "life", chaim, and also appears in the slogan am yisrael chai (עם ישראל חי, "The people of Israel lives!", referring to all Jews). There have been various mystical numerological speculations about the fact that according to the system of gematria, the letters of chai add up to 18 (see "Jewish use of the Tetragrammaton" and "Lamedvavniks"). Many Jews give gifts of money in multiples of 18 as a result.

Source : Wikipedia







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