Masala Chai (Spiced Tea) Made Simple

March 20, 2016 § Leave a comment

Sometimes you just need a hot cup of tea.

I love both coffee and tea. Coffee in the morning when I wake up, for that jolt of caffeine, strong taste and earthy aroma, and tea in the afternoon and evening, for its gentle toughness and memories of rainy days, fireplaces, and family gatherings.

I am very particular about my coffees and teas. I like dark roast, freshly ground coffee with skim milk and sugar. I like my herbal to be unfussy and straightforward: green tea, chamomile, jasmine, and oolong for their antioxidents, taste, aftertaste, and aroma. And for the gentle caffine jolt, the chais of Pakistan, black tea leaves boiled in water water and milk. Lately I’ve taken to adding spices to enhance the fragrance and exoticize the taste. We love this masala tea, or chai, which is the urdu and hindi word for tea, and have a cup every evening while we sit together and read, talk, or watch TV. The only caveat is that I drink this tea in company.

There are no hard and fast rules for this tea. It’s is like a family recipe, shared through the generations, but adjusted according to the maker’s preference. The most common spices used are cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, white or black peppercorns, fennel and star anise. They can be used whole, ground into a powder or a mixture of both consistencies. The combinations are endless!  The following is a version I make. Do note that this tea is made sweetened, but you can adjust the amount of sugar within the recipe after some trial and error.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

4 whole cardamom pods
2 whole cloves
2 whole star anise seeds (I ran out of my anise seeds, so I’ve been making this tea with just cardamom and cloves. Its still pretty good!)
2 teaspoons sugar
3 teabags of unflavored black tea (or 4 teaspoons of loose tea leaves)
1 ½ cups of 1% or whole milk
4 cups of water

Pour 4 cups of water into a small sauce pan and add the cardamom pods, cloves, anise seeds and tea bags (or tea leaves). Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat very, very low, and simmer gently for 1 or 2 minutes, until it is fragrant. Add the milk and sugar. Stir and bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat. Pour through a strainer and serve.

Enjoy!

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