Thursday, January 24, 2008

Chai

Every year about this time I suddenly become quite the enthusiast of hot, sweet, milky drinks. (Hmm, wonder why? *shiver*) Cocoa. Molasses Hot Toddy. And Chai. I don't really care for the concoctions being passed off as chai at popular coffeehouses these days, really, (some of them don't even have actual tea in them! How disappointing.) but I am fond of my chai homebrew, which is perfectly easy to make. I base mine very loosely on a vivid description of chai by my former Swahili professor (one of the more fruitful classroom digressions I've been a party to over the years), combined with limited actual experience drinking chai tangawizi (ginger tea) in Tanzania. The chai tangawizi I had didn't involve milk, though-- just the strongest, pepperiest ginger ever. It taught me not to hold back with the ginger.

Three ingredients are non-optional, as far as I'm concerned: milk, tea, and ginger. If you don't have those, you can still make it, but...well, it's up to you. Lower your expectations at that point, that's all I'm sayin'.

Put some skim milk in a pan, add ginger (fresh if you have it, candied if you don't have fresh, powdered if you don't have either of those), a couple cardamom pods, a couple of whole cloves, a cinnamon stick, sugar to taste. Let it simmer for 10 minutes or so, then throw in your tea--about a teaspoon per cup of milk. My favorite for chai is Upton Tea's Chisunga Estate BOP, but any good, strong black tea will do. I've also had some success with flavored teas like mango or orange spice.

Mmm. Off to have another cup.

1 comment:

teegee said...

I Loooooove chai.

We have several Indian restaurants in our town and one has a grocery/cafe too. THAT is where you go to get the good stuff. Tiny hole-in-the-wall store- but you can get home made chai.

mmmmm. I need to make a stop on the way home.