Fresh ginger and spices steeped with tea and milk for a cold-weather comfort drink.
How the cup holds the tea
Pat Schneider, poet,
from The Patience of Ordinary Things
“Oooh. Something smells good!” I just love to hear those words, so much that some times I put a cinnamon stick on the stove to simmer, just for the aroma – and the reaction.
(LANGUAGE POLICE Think of all the English words we have that describe our olfactory sensations, aroma, yes, but also scent, smell, stench, fragrance and odor. My books on word usage make little distinction except that aroma is the word most closely tied to food. Perhaps, methinks, aroma is in the nose of the be-smeller.)
Right, back to the chai tea, first made for my cookie swap back in December. I made it a day ahead and honestly, was unimpressed. But the next day, I reheated it anyway – and lo, when my fellow cookie-bakers were arriving if I didn’t hear those much-sought words, “Oooh. Something smells good!”
We all loved the stuff. Ever since, I’ve kept a jug in the fridge, ready for rewarming a cup at a time. It feels New Year resolution-ish, what with milk and all. Try it first without a sweetener, letting the spices themselves subtly sweeten the milk.
SUGAR-FREE CHAI TEA
Time to table: 1 -1/4 hours but best if flavors meld for 24 hours
Makes about 8 cups
- 8 cups water
- One piece of fresh ginger, about 3 inches long, washed and sliced thin cross-wise
- 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
- 2 pieces star anise
- 16 whole cloves
- 20 cardamom whole seeds
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 3 tea bags (see TIPS)
- 3 cups skim milk
- Honey, agave, maple syrup to taste (optional)
In a large pot, combine the water, ginger and spices. Cover, bring to a boil and let simmer for 30 minutes. (Even with the pot covered, a good third of the water will evaporate.) Turn off the heat. Pour liquid through a strainer and discard the ginger and spices. Rinse out the pot with hot water, pour the liquid back in. Add the tea bags, cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Remove the tea bags. Add the milk. If serving right away, reheat the liquid but do not boil. Pour into hot mugs (see TIPS). If needed, sweeten to taste. If not serving right away, let cool, then transfer to a carafe and refrigerate. Rewarm to serve, sweetening to taste if needed.
Staying Warm from the Inside Out
Recipe Favorites over the Holidays
As much as I love trying new recipes, I also love returning to old favorites. These are recipes remade over the holidays, ones I heartily recommend.
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