Masala Chai

Ginger, loose leaf black tea and green cardamom pods (clockwise from left)

There is no “right way” to make Indian-style spiced tea (masala chai) flavored with ginger and cardamom.  You can vary the ingredients based upon taste, and create your own unique formula for masala chai.  I like to use milk from organic pasture-fed cows as the milk is sweet and naturally flavorful.  I also believe that this tea does not taste the same without ginger that adds an aromatic, sharp and earthy taste to the tea.  Some people like to add a strand or two of saffron to the tea for a rich, unique taste. You can also add a stick of cinnamon and a clove or two for a warmer, spicier flavor.

Be careful to not over-boil the tea leaves, which imparts a bitter taste, and to not add too much ginger, which could make the tea very pungent (although I love an over-pungent tea that bites my throat).   The idea is to make a cup of tea that you look forward to each morning or afternoon.  Which means that you will sit down with a steaming cup in hand, perhaps with a little snack and a favorite read.  The taking of tea becomes even more pleasurable when shared with a loved one.

Makes about 2 cups of tea

2 cups water
a piece of ginger
3-4 pods of whole green cardamom
1 tbsp loose leaf black Assam CTC tea
1 cup milk, whole or 2% reduced fat
Brown or white sugar to taste

In a small saucepan, place the water to boil over medium to high heat on the stove.  Meanwhile, pound the ginger and the cardamom using a mortar and pestle, and add the mixture to the water in the saucepan.  When the water begins to boil, wait for a few seconds, and add the milk and bring to boil again.  Watch to see that the tea does not spill over the pan; if the liquid begins to rise, reduce the flame.  Then add the tea leaves, and continue to boil.  Keep on the flame until the color turns to a rich caramel color, usually within one minute.  Remove, strain with a tea strainer into a cup.  Add sugar to taste and stir.  Serve immediately.  This tea is best enjoyed hot.

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