Chai Tea Recipe
One of my stops was a mom and pop diner offering homemade meals. It was a tiny downtown eatery that sported wall-mounted blackboard menus and old style wooden booths. This one seemed pretty authentic, too -- no brass, salad bar or potted plants in sight. I asked for a cup of tea and was offered a home brewed chai tea blend the owner mixed himself. It was delicious.
Let me set the scene: I was sitting by the window and it was raining outside. A flock of sparrows sidelined by the incoming storm front were gorging themselves in the tree lawn visible just outside the window and performing short flight acrobatics in the trees. The taste and aroma of cinnamon and ginger in the chai tea made the moment just about winter perfect. After much wheedling on my part, the manager gave me the recipe. It's an amazing blend of hot and flavorful ingredients that make for a nice afternoon tea break.
Chai Tea Recipe Base
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground anise
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 cup Darjeeling (loose) tea
3 teaspoons fresh minced ginger
1/3 cup honey, blue agave syrup (a sweetener made from the agave plant), brown sugar or stevia
1 tablespoon molasses
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange zest
Cook the first six dry spices in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture begins smell fragrant.
Add two cups of water and the loose tea and bring to a light simmer.
Remove from heat and add the vanilla, ginger, bay leaf, agave, molasses and orange zest. Stir
Leave at room temperature for an hour, strain and refrigerate.
To serve this concentrated mixture: add a quarter of a cup concentrate to six ounces of hot milk or water.
While you're relaxing with a cup of chai tea, take a look at my TLC article: 10 Chinese New Year Food Superstitions. It's a fun read. In researching it, I learned a lot of things I didn't know about this holiday and it's food traditions.
If you think you may be cooking for Chinese New Year, I've also written a helpful recap of how to make the Chinese dumplings known as pot stickers. They're yummy and easy to put together once you get the knack of pleating them closed: How to Make Chinese Dumplings
Check back soon. I'm in the middle of preparing a tutorial on how to make crystalized ginger -- one of my absolute favorite old timey homemade candies.
Photo: By Alpha from Melbourne, Australia [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMasala_Tea_and_South_Indian_Filter_Coffee.jpg