Green cardamom is the fanciest type of all cardamoms. Picked while still immature and sun dried to preserve its bright green color—green cardamom retains aroma and flavor better than the other types of cardamom available—namely cardamom seed and ground cardamom.
In the thousand iterations of my chai recipe, I have tried them all. The ground cardamom leads to an extremely gritty bottom of the cup, which always seems to find its way into the top of the cup as I'm tilting it towards my mouth. Which makes me do this weird spitting thing that would make my six year old son very proud. I've decided that I don't like chewing on my chai. Therefore, this option has been left in the dust.
The cardamom seeds, on the other hand, are easily strained out when the brewing is complete, but they lack a certain essence in the big picture of the chai concentrate.
I've found this component of the chai spice mix to have a profound effect on the end result.
While it may be true that cardamom pods are the third most expensive spice in the world—behind saffron and vanilla—it does not take very many to infuse their magnificent flavor into my drink. For what these little pods offer, they are worth every penny.
A long time ago I worked in a large banquet hall as a server and we would host our fair share of Indian celebrations throughout the year. No matter the reason for the party, there was always an Indian dance performance that accompanied the evening's events. There were plenty of occasions when I would trip and nearly spill my entire tray all over the fine patrons I was serving thanks to my eyes becoming completely fixated on the dancers on stage. This video brings me back.