How I learned to make Chai Tea
|Spiced Chai Tea - shown with the "Reed Straw"|
I first tried the Chai Tea Latte at the coffee house on the advice of a friend, and was instantly hooked! From then on I tried different "Chai Tea" products and tea bags - all to have them disappoint me. I am not sure if what I tried had a different balance of spices? Or the quality of the tea leaves?
I ran across a Facebook post that showed how to make Chai Tea and was intrigued. Before I even tried the method and recipe in the post, it spurred a conversation with a man that frequents India! This was good luck for me, and now, out of that conversation, I have developed my own method to make Chai Tea.
First, the spice "brew" needs to be made separately for the Tea. Long ago, I read up on the art of tea making. It is a big deal not to steep those tea leaves too long. My rule, 5 minutes, black tea, and 3 minutes, green tea.
Now, back to the spices - the conversation went like this:
"My chai blend is gleaned from a restaurant in India: Black Tea Cinnamon, Ginger, Cloves, Sesame Seeds, Black Pepper, Red Pepper, Cardamom, Fennel Seed, Vanilla Bean, and Nutmeg
If you try it yourself, know that it takes awhile for the Sesame Seeds and Cinnamon Bark to suffuse. And don't over do the Black and Red Pepper."
We agreed that a Crockpot is one good way to make this brew. And that the brew can be used over a period of a couple of days if you "refresh" it periodically with another slice of fresh Ginger. The tea is added to the cup of spice brew so as not to steep the tea leaves too long. You can use tea bags or an infuser.
So into my pot of water go the cinnamon sticks and the sesame seeds first, giving that the most time to steep before adding the additional spices:
2 cinnamon sticks
1 t. of sesame seeds
1 slice of fresh ginger
2 whole cloves
2 whole cardamom pods - crushed
1 T. of Fennel Seed - crushed
1 small piece of whole nutmeg (or a grating)
1/2 of a vanilla bean (split)
Pour the spiced brew into a cup.
Add quality tea leaves in an infuser or tea bags to the cup. Use the recommended steeping time guidelines for tea. Remove the tea leaves (or bag).
To serve: You can add cream and sugar but I love it without!
My Facebook friend added to the conversation:
"If your experiments lead to something that needs a name I think 'Hill Station Chai' would be appropriate. In the days of the Raj, Hill Stations were where you could get away from the heat and dust of the dry season. Not everyone could afford it, but not everyone was able to afford the selection of spices in the more elaborate chais, either."
Now to sip my tea while my mind drifts to visions of life in India.....