Indian Tea Party: Chai and Henna -- Tea Parties Around the World -- Exploring India

This month we decided to explore India with our tea parties. India seems like a good one to mention when exploring tea around the world. It was after all a big part of the British trying to grow tea somewhere besides China. When the British were able to smuggle some tea plants out of China they ran into the problem of needing the correct environment to grow it in. They decided on India and began to colonize there. In my British and Chinese tea party posts I shared great resources to explore the history of tea, so I am not going to repeat it all here. Of course tea is so sensitive to environment, methods of processing and even methods and times of picking, so the tea in India was even different from the tea in China.
Now we have explored India previously. We loved learning reading books like Indian Children's Favorite Stories and the Indian Cinderella tale. We have also looked at math, dance, cooking, and history  and more history and culture of India, as well as the Hindu holiday Diwali and done some crafts. Then in January I got the pleasure of reading an amazing middle grade book about life of runaways in India. Now with all of that previous look you may think there is nothing left, but we found some fun things.
We always enjoy learning about the animals of the country and India has quite an array of animals!! We enjoyed books and a DVD on the animals. Animals are a big part in the Indian culture and many are treated with so much respect due to the Hindu religion. We also enjoyed watching the following DVDs (some again).

 With this introduction to India we were ready for some tea fun. We started with this great book.

It shares the story of an Indian American boy telling about his great uncle who has always lived with him and always drank his tea in the same cup. The story comes out that the uncle's mother brought the tea cup with her when the family left their home that became part of Pakistan to have a life continue as residents of India. It tells about the hardship of the refugees when the country split into two. It also shares the importance of tea in the culture.

Now we decided to serve chai for our tea party. I combined a recipe from The Cafe Spice Cookbook and the card that came with my chai tea kit from Uncommon Goods.

I used four cups of water, two teaspoons of Earl Grey tea, eight cardamom pods, a small piece of anise star, eight whole cloves, several pieces of cinnamon sticks, a couple of black peppercorns, a good piece of fresh ginger cut into a few pieces, and some local honey to sweeten it. I put all of the ingredients in the pan and brought the mixture to a boil. I then covered the pan and turned off the burner and let it sit for about three minutes. I strained it into cups and served it with milk. At our tea party was Hazel, a coworker who is from India and me. We began by listening to Putumayo Presents India. Hazel and I had started listening to it while we got ready.

My coworker streamed some music from Bollywood movies that she loves and had Hazel watch the videos on her phone while she gave us henna on our hands.

Now henna is first mixed with lemon juice, oils, and sometimes sugar. It comes out as a dark brown paste. The tube or cone she used reminded me of a smaller version of frosting tubes. My coworker is from India and she is also an artist and art teacher. She has sketches to show clients of some of her designs. Hazel picked one for her first hand and then one for my hand. Then we let my friend have fun with my right hand. She also went a little off the design for Hazel's left hand.
Hazel's Left Hand
After the henna paste is on the hand you need to let it dry.
Hazel's Hands with Paste
My Hands with Paste
After the paste is dry it rubs off or you can flake it off. It leads a light brown dye behind.
Hazel's Hands without Paste
My friend instructed us to put vegetable oil on our henna after we flake it off. We also could not put water or soap on them that night.
My Hands without Paste
The next day and a few days later the brown darkens and looks more like it is part of the skin.
It lasts for a few weeks although Hazel's is already starting to fade. I guess she has been really washing her hands this week.

By the way my friend said my chai was good. Hazel on the other hand hated it. I think I should have added more sugar or honey for her. We also made some cupcakes for treats to eat. I happened to buy a vanilla chai flavored mix. It was good. So that is our exploration of tea in India.