Although we are coffee drinkers, my pantry is bursting with a variety of teas: English breakfast, Earl Grey, Chinese jasmine both loose and bagged, Korean corn, Japanese green, mango and vanilla flavored black, salabat (ginger) and today I bought Indian tea leaves. I am not a fancy tea drinker, I have always taken English breakfast tea just with cream, no sugar, the jasmine with dim sum and Chinese food but recently have been brewing vanilla and mango flavored to take with Japanese food since I discovered they go well together when we ate at Pauli Moto Asian Bistro (co-owned by Iron Chef Morimoto where by the way food is excellent, if you know which dish to order). I have always wanted to try chai ever since we had over an Indian guy for lunch a few months ago. After lunch I offered coffee which he refused and tea. With the variety of teas I have I thought he would be able to pick one but he again refused and said he only likes chai. He proceeded to lament that since his girlfriend left him he doesn't eat home cooked meals and doesn't get to drink homemade chai anymore, boo hoo. How good could this chai be? Well, apparently he is right, it is extremely good. This afternoon I made a pot of slowly simmered tea leaves with a variety of spices and it could be addicting, specially now that it's getting cold. I nibbled on Pocky sesame seed sticks while sipping this wonderful brew, yummy.
These are the spices I used: cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, black pepper, fresh ginger, and nutmeg. My daughter likes it with a little honey, I prefer ½ tsp of raw sugar in mine and my son who doesn't drink coffee or tea also liked it. An added bonus is the house smells wonderful for hours.
To prepare: measure 1 ½ cups water and ½ cup milk in a stainless steel pan. Spices: 1 inch piece fresh peeled sliced ginger, 6 cloves, 6 whole black peppers, 4 cardamom pods, 1 small cinnamon stick, dash of nutmeg. Crack or pound lightly the cloves, black pepper, cardamom (make sure the seeds inside are cracked) and the cinnamon stick. In the pan add 1 tablespoon Darjeeling blend tea leaves and all the spices. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and slow simmer for 30 minutes. Strain into a teapot, add sugar to taste. Enjoy.
I got this tinned loose Indian tea leaves from the Korean grocery store. It's a bit pricey, although it's a pound of excellent tea leaves, it's worth the money. Don't use the tea bags you find in the grocery, only loose Indian tea blends will make excellent cups of chai.