Chai Iraqi Style
If you talk to anyone who served “outside the wire” in Iraq, it won’t take long before they begin to talk about having tea with the Iraqis. For most of us, the tea we encountered in Iraq was very different than what we knew from back home. Based on my experiences downing hundreds of cups of this stuff in a variety of situations during my deployment to a small Iraqi city in 2004-5, I recreated a blend that will either allow you to experience Middle Eastern tea for the first time or maybe take you back on a stroll (or hardened combat patrol?) down memory lane.We start with a large leaf Ceylon black tea, just like they prefer in the Middle East. Then I add a touch of cardamom and cinnamon. The cinnamon isn’t terribly “authentic”, but it helps give the tea the exotic spicy and sweet flavor you’ll remember from Iraq without all the sugar they would typically use over there.The tea is traditionally brewed very strong, heavy on the sugar and served in a Turkish style tea glass, which holds about half the volume of a standard mug we would use here. The cinnamon helps reduce the need for sugar, but adding a bit is recommended to recreate the Iraqi chai experience.This tea is a great way to share your experience overseas with your loved ones without, well, all the messy stuff…I would also say that this is a great blend for people who *want* to like Indian style chai, pumpkin spice, etc. but find it a little “too much”.