my husband and i recently returned from a peaceful, sunny weekend at the Oregon coast with some dear friends who are wonderful people; they’re great at cooking, great at being attractive and merciless at Monopoly. we stayed in a beautiful 3-story home on the Nestucca River bank, with a backyard fire pit, huge windows, and commercial kitchen range from which we fed our group of seven from scratch, every meal. such fun i had cooking with my friends! i’ll have to get a guest post from Victoria for her fantastic salmon burgers with leeks and spinach. we ate, a lot. a lot.
i brewed some of my favorite chai tea, too, drinking in a fragrant, spicy cup while the sun came up over the river, or while we cooked 2 dozen eggs for breakfast in our sweats (heated tile floors, yes!). it was a true vacation — the internet went out in the previous week’s storm, and the expensive-looking flat-screen tv failed to work. we had wonderful company and wonderful weather!… didn’t even miss Draw Something. plenty of spicy tea and strong coffee and card games, indeed.
real homemade chai tea so simple and so striking; i wonder why i don’t make it more often. the warm aromatics remind me of last summer, when i stayed with my sister in Brooklyn, New York. she made chai for us each morning, and between hair damp from the shower and hair damp from the summer humidity, we sipped this tea in the 85-degree morning heat. it powered us up for warm walks to the train, where the air pressed even stronger and warmer at the underground platforms. chai fueled our adventures of live music, museums, Manhattan and Momofuku. i love the spices, the licorice-y anise and the peppery black tea, made creamy with hot milk. the flavors of the whole spices are so big and full, invigorating. it also doesn’t cost $4 for a cup, nor your drive-through coffee shop barista’s attitude. you should try it! enjoy!
chai teamakes about 4 1/2 cups look in your grocer’s bulk bins for inexpensive spices
- 2 whole star anise pods
- small handful green cardamom pods (about 10)
- small handful black peppercorns (about a heaping tablespoon)
- 2 teaspoons whole cloves
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 3 slices peeled fresh ginger root
- 1/3 cup loose black tea, such as Darjeeling
- raw sugar or honey (optional)
with a mortar and pestle, or using the flat blade of a knife and the heel of your hand, slightly crush the cardamom pods and peppercorns.
bring 5 cups of cold, filtered water to a boil. remove from heat and add first six ingredients; cover and steep for about 15 minutes. add tea, stir. cover and steep for 3 minutes. strain into a nonreactive container. cover and store in the fridge (this turns it cloudy, but that will not affect taste).
this is a concentrate; mix one part chai with one part milk and heat to serve. sweeten if desired.