A tweet from WebMD's account featuring a "chai latte" recipe is being good-naturedly roasted by the South Asian diaspora, for whom tea is the holy grail of beverages.
The video caught the attention of Desi Twitter — the space in which young South Asians share memes, TikToks and relatable experiences — because of its unusual ingredients. The tweeted recipe included unsweetened coconut milk, maple syrup, star anise and lots of cinnamon.
It also stirred an online conversation about what constitutes an authentic recipe for spiced tea, or masala chai. The beverage is usually made with hot milk, loose tea leaves and spices like ginger, cardamom and cloves.
It's not unusual for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant to use nondairy alternatives. Similarly, those who don't want to use refined sugar may opt for a replacement.
However, the tweet, which has been deleted, didn't give clarity or context about that. Instead, the recipe was called a way to avoid coffee shop prices, and it became the subject of comedic scrutiny.
WebMD acknowledged the response, tweeting that their recent recipe "really missed the mark."
We hear you loud and clear! Our most recent recipe video really missed the mark. Thank you for letting us know.
— WebMD (@WebMD) September 29, 2020
Here are some of the reactions to their viral video.
I keep thinking about this abomination and I realize it's a matter of time before a misguided white person creates a "how to make the perfect cup of chai using cumin and cilantro" video and I beg of you, stop https://t.co/hRMcWjlz35
— rabia O'chaudry (@rabiasquared) September 29, 2020
Disgusting stuff. Chai latte is best made with soy milk and pomegranate molasses. https://t.co/CEuyRTillL
— 🔱 T O R P E D O 🔱 (@533mmTorpedo) September 29, 2020
Considering you had to raze an entire farm to make this, I think it would actually cost more than at an actual coffee shop.
— Dr Meenal Viz (@meenalsworld) September 28, 2020
What on earth are you making here, chai or potpourri?? https://t.co/3Pe6PuU7fh
— Kabir Taneja (@KabirTaneja) September 28, 2020
People were quick to point out the light color of the tea, which is a sign that it lacks the usually strong flavor.
Three bags of black tea in two cups of water and they end up with that light shade of brown tea? https://t.co/CjcZjkfL6F
— meetasengupta (@Meetasengupta) September 27, 2020
Colour of that chai "latte" tells me that it sucks in taste. Please leave it to the people who know how to make chai. You just link every symptom to cancer. That's your forte.
— Toby Flenderson (@To_beFlenderson) September 28, 2020
Mostly, lots of people joked that the excessive use of spices could turn the latte into other South Asian dishes.
Ew! Three sticks of cinnamon!! Also you are like halfway to making chole. Now add a can or so of garbanzo beans, saute a handful of green chillies, and some turmeric. Eat with parathas or onion rice! https://t.co/meXCZSz3BZ
— Priya Ravichandran (@binaryfootprint) September 28, 2020
Damn, white people, the only thing left to add to this abomination is some garam masala.
— Madhu Menon (@madmanweb) September 28, 2020
Did you forget to add some onions, tomatoes, garlic, turmerics, cumin, black pepper, red chillies, green chillies, nutmeg, black cardamom, tamarind paste, curry leaves mace and of-course some fresh yoghurt on top ?
— Slick Jedi 🌊 (@SlickJedi) September 28, 2020
You know what! If you added rice instead of tea bags, this would be pulav! This is neither “chai” nor “latte”. It looks more like when - Rachel in Friends - mixed 2 different recipes to make “English trifle”. This one has 3. Maple syrup! Why not some banana and strawberries! https://t.co/2AHzsSri5N
— Rocky (@ra_ra_ra_rocky) September 28, 2020
Add rice instead of tea bags and this will be biryani👌 pic.twitter.com/ZmvmFM5i5E
— J for Joke; J for Judiciary (@snorlaxisbored) September 28, 2020
Add some noodles instead of tea bags will turn in to nice spicy & tasty soup . pic.twitter.com/ShqcB3mftk
— g (@potugaadu99) September 28, 2020
Thanks for the spices, if you could just replace milk with chicken, this might beat the British national dish (chicken tikka masala).
— Pooran Dewari (@genes_edinburgh) September 28, 2020