My Chai: Spiced Tea
When it’s cold outside, I love to sip tea and curl up with a good book. This winter in Milan was colder than usual (yeah, I know all you Chicagoans and Minnesotans are pulling out your violins for me!) and so I drank a lot of tea. Its warmth and caffeine kick hit the spot when it’s chilly and rainy. Funny but weather changes have no effect on my cravings for hot, caffeinated coffee. It’s the same all year round.
I had bought a pound of Indian Kalmi/Gulabi (whole-leaf Assam) back in Chicago on Devon Ave. I got a bum pack of tea, though (not Devon Ave’s fault; usually the Indian food there is top notch!) The tea’s not all that tasty alone, so over this cold winter, I devised my own version of spiced tea, chai masala. This is NOT the creamy sugary spiced tea you get at Indian sweet shops, it’s simpler and more straightforward than that. I don’t like to boil tea leaves so I get the flavor of the spices going by steeping them for a while before adding the tea.
Here's the recipe:
4 cracked green cardamom pods (going clockwise on the photo)
2 broken cloves
1 small bay leaf
¼ inch piece of cinnamon, broken
1 heaping tablespoon of
whole-leaf Assam tea
12 ozs water
Put the water over the lowest heat setting and collect the spices. Toss them in and stir, allow them to slowly heat and steep for 5 minutes then turn up the heat to bring the water to a boil. As soon as the bubbles start moving, take the pan off the heat, toss in the tea, stir and cover. Wait 3-5 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea. Pour through a strainer into an oversized mug. Enjoy!