I have a confession to make…..
I LOVE Chai Tea. No, lovely ones, you just don’t understand, I R-E-A-L-L-Y love Chai Tea. It is my lifeblood in the winter. The truth of the matter is, it is probably all that runs through my veins, I drink so much of it.
The piping hot, tantalizingly sweet steam that gently swirls up from the creamy delight below makes my cold winters day. Ahhhh, inhale it in. The spicy aromatic herbs warm my nostrils and get me to salivating before I can even get the smooth curve of the warm cup to my lips. The warm spice, and gently sweet creamy liquid dances fluidity on my tongue. I swallow. Loving warmth spreads first down my throat to my stomach encouraging happy digestion, then continues to warm my numbed extremities from the cold and frozen tundra that is Northern MN mid-winter.
As I put the Chai kettle on the stove, (yes, I have a kettle reserved for its sole high and lofty purpose of making chai), I anticipate the dancing of the herbs and the aroma wafting from the whirling and twirling that is this sacred dance of tea in the making. I believe this dance and the resulting anticipation of what is to come to be my favorite part of the process. As the steam rises from the kettle it lifts the spicy aroma and ones spirit along with it. The spices meld and mix together as they dance over under around and through, at first as a gentle waltz, then picking up tempo to a passionate flamenco-esque number.
The heat rises, the pungent spice begins to pierce the air and fills heart and home with a zest for life. With triumphant fanfare, and a graceful sweeping gesture, I add the tea in one motion, return lid to kettle, and wait with eager knowing. The Chai is nearly prepared. It is whisper silent in the dark and chilly kitchen, and I wait for this ever important last step to tea nirvana. My winter frozen fingers reach for an oversized mug from the top shelf of the cold and frosty cupboard. (Our kitchen is on an outer wall in our northern home, and the butter freezes in there!) At last my cold numbed toes wrapped in wool, shuffle over the stiff tundra of linoleum to the refrigerator to search out the milk. I quickly produce it from the fridge and bring it over to greet the expectant oversized mug. It is almost complete, save the last bit of magic that happens within the burgeoning mug.
With great anticipation buzzing through my veins, my trembling hands remove the lid from the kettle to reveal what is the treasure of a warm and gently spicy tea awaiting its sole purpose of defrosting my winter bones. I ladle and strain. Add milk and a touch of honey for sweetness to balance the spice, and wah-lah! It is done.
There before my eyes appears an oasis of delight on a frozen dimly lit morning, offering the loving promise of warmth for both body and soul, delivered in a cup. I wrap frigid fingers tightly around and press in, breathe in, all that is chai.
Best Ever Chai Tea
To 3 quarts of boiling water add:
20 Whole Cloves
20 Whole Green Cardamom Pods
20 Whole Black Peppercorns
5 Sticks Cinnamon or 1 tsp. Cinnamon Bark or Chips
1 tsp. Chicory
1 tsp. Dried Ginger Root
Continue boiling in covered kettle 15-20 min. or till desired amount of spiciness is reached, remove from heat, and add:
1 tsp. Red Rooibos Tea, or 1/4tsp. Black Tea
Place lid back on kettle and allow tea to steep 5-10 min. Strain herbs and tea from liquid and return to kettle. Keep on the stove on low to keep chai warm as you enjoy through the day, or pour into carafe. Add milk and honey to taste.
Makes 3 quarts of the Best Ever Chai Tea