01 December 2007

Morning Chai, or How Did December Happen?

I greeted the first day of December with a steaming cup or three of chai. The fragrant spices (cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and black pepper) are redolent of warmer places, and the caffeine hit from a rich yet sweet Indian second-flush Darjeeling isn't bad, either.

Chai Tea
Makes: 4 servings.

Crush 6 cardamom pods, 6 whole cloves, 1 cinnamon stick and 6 peppercorns; place in medium-size saucepan with 3 cups water and 1 cup milk. Add a 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled (or just scrubbed) and sliced, and bring to a boil over medium heat.

Cover and remove from heat; let sit for five minutes. Add 5 tablespoon loose Darjeeling tea; cover again and let steep for three to five minutes. Strain into a teapot and add a few tablespoons of sugar or honey to taste.

Other options: a fresh, scored vanilla bean; a teaspoon of dried lavender; even a pinch of cayenne pepper for the truly groggy. Then just try to not drink the entire pot in one sitting unless you want to invoke a severe case of ADD for the rest of the day.