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Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 cups sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and dash saffron. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. If necessary, cover and chill about 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and dash saffron (or the 2 teaspoons chai spice blend). Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Roll balls in sugar mixture to coat. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 8 to 9 minutes or until bottoms are light brown. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool.