Guest contribution by Paula Geerligs
The winter holiday season is my favorite excuse to hang out in the kitchen, where it’s warm and filled with enticing aromatics. Last winter, I spent many hours there (my “kitchen shift”, I’d call it), working on my baking skills and tea blending for friends. It’s the perfect time and place to get creative because everyone appreciates it. Tea and cookies for all!
I’m going on a baking and tea blending spree again this year, but this time I am also making a spiced chai “kit” to give as gifts. Masala chai simmering away on a stovetop is such a special experience. In my home, making chai over a stove is usually reserved for a beautiful meal or made when I want to entertain my guests. It’s a process that does require a little bit of effort, and perhaps even rare ingredients (depending on where you are). Assuming most of my friends do not have their own masala chai recipe, they may not ever consider getting a pot started on their own.
And so I have come with gifts, like a wintry tea saint.
I want my gift to be a simple, easy version of how I would make it in my own home. It should require very little effort to make, yet it shall still deliver depths of flavor and all the soul-soothing, heart-warming properties that come with a cup of spicy stovetop chai.
I love cardamom, so it takes center stage in my chai. My chai will always include some type of pepper, too. If you wish to create a chai “kit” for your friends, you can play around with the spices to align with your own personal taste. You may even tweak the entire recipe. Everyone has their own way.
To make this kit, I crushed the spices in my mortar and pestle and scooped the spice blend into a jam jar. Instead of blending the spices with the black tea, I kept them separate. I filled tea bags with loose tea, and included that with the jar. Finish it off with a label, instructions, and a bow (or a sprig of festive greenery).
My Chai Spice Recipe (Two Jars)
- 8 t. Cardamom
- 4 t. Cinnamon chips
- 2 t. Clove
- 2 t. Ground ginger
- 1 t. Rainbow peppercorns
- 1 Anise star
- 12 t. Black tea
- Grind spices in mortar and pestle and blend.
- Distribute evenly between two jars.
- Scoop black tea into bags (2 t. per bag). Divide into jars.
Instructions: On stove, take 2 teaspoons* of spices to 2 cups of filtered water. Bring to boil, and simmer until fragrant. Add 2 cups of milk, bring up to simmer for a few more minutes. Add 2 teaspoons of loose black tea, take off heat and let infuse 3 minutes. Strain to remove loose tea… and enjoy!
*add an extra teaspoon if you like it spicier
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