Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Good Chai

I was never a coffee drinker until I had my second child. Then suddenly, experiencing sleep depravation unlinke I had ever known with my first child and now a toddler in tow to boot, coffee became my new very best friend.  Every morning, after another sleepless night, my husband would lovingly make me a strong cup of coffee and offer it as a daily token of appreciation for once again sacrificing sleep for this lovely new child of ours.

Once my daughter started sleeping through the night, years later, we still continued our coffee ritual, even though I didn't need it as badly anymore.  And as much as I love a good cup of coffee with proper cream and sugar, it wasn't making me feel very well.  My tummy would get upset and I would get surprisingly irritable.  It didn't help that I was also having tea in the afternoon and some dose of chocolate to boot.  It just wasn't a good scene.

What I have always loved is a good cup of Chai.  I would often get one at the local coffee shop or even buy the mix in the tetra pack, but I always found it too sweet and syrupy.  But there was something about Chai that made me feel good.  Maybe it was the milky tea or the spices, I don't know, but it would always, without fail lift my mood out of the foggiest days.  After a while I forgot about it since I couldn't stand the sweetness of it.

Then a month ago, I had to travel to Vancouver with my mom as she was having major surgery.  When I didn't need to be at the hospital, I found myself wandering around the city.  And then one day, while I was at Granville Island, I noticed that the Granville Island tea company was making Chai tea, and I decided to buy one.  Now, this was not the Chai from a tetra pack.  They had tea steeping in one pot, and into the blender went the milk, water, spices and fresh ginger.  Honestly, this was what I had been searching for my whole caffinated life.  I returned three more times while I was in the city, it made me feel good, not sick and lifted my mood.  It was a godsend to be honest.

So when I got home, I decided to learn to make proper Chai myself.  After trying three different recipes, none of which were quite right, I found this one.  It is the Chai of your dreams, honestly.  Yes it takes a bit more effort that pouring pre-made syrup out of a carton, but it is completely worth it. I have actually given up coffee since I started making this and I am no longer irritable and my tummy is much happier.  The recipe makes enough for 4 cups.  If you can't drink it all at once,  put the rest in a jar in the fridge and re-heat what you want later.  Some people use tea bags, and that is fine.  I have been using the Ox blend from Teafarm and it has been fantastic.  I owe a big thank you to Nikiah Seeds for sharing this recipe on her blog, and for giving me permission to share it here; it has been such a gift.

Good Chai
From Redmoon Musings: Chai Tea

Chai Masala Mix

1/4 cup cinnamon pieces
1/8 cup cloves
1/4 cup green cardamom pods
1/4 cup whole black peppercorns
4-6 Star Anise
3/4 cup ginger powder
1 Tablespoon ground nutmeg

Dry roast all the spices, except for the nutmeg and ginger powder in a cast iron skillet.  Keep an eye on it as you don't want to burn the spices, just toast them.  Once you can begin to smell their oils release, remove the pan from the stove and let cool.  Once cool, grind in a spice grinder (or mortar and pestal as I did since it was all I had) until finely ground.  Add the ground ginger and nutmeg and mix.  Now you have your Masala mix.  Store in an airtight jar.  This makes a lot and will keep you going for a long while. 

Masala Chai tea

3 cups fresh water
1 cup whole milk 
3 cardamom pods, cracked
2-3 whole cloves
3 peppercorns
1 Star Anise
1/4 tsp Masala Spice mix (this really is all you need)
1-2 small sticks of cinnamon
3 slices of fresh ginger
4 tsp black tea such as Ceylon
4 tsp brown sugar

In a pot, add the water, milk and all spices and bring to a boil, keeping an eye on it, you don't want it to go over.  Once the mixture has come to a boil, lift it off the heat so it settles down and then return it to the heat to boil again.  You want to do this 3 times.  I can't say why it works, but it does, it makes the milk lovely and frothy.  After the third time, add your tea and sugar and simmer for 4 minutes.  Strain into a warmed tea pot and enjoy.  This tea will not only lift your energy, but your spirits too. 

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