Thursday, April 9, 2020

Chai, a revelation

OK, I drink tea, love the stuff.  I simply adore chai though, tea like you get it in India.  Sincerely, the first time this gorgeous nectar passed my lips in India in the 80s it was one of those moments in your life that was so astonishing and so delicious.  Ahhhh

I have tried the chai you get at Starf*cks, and meh to say the least.  It's mostly just sweet.  Meh.  I have occasionally bought chai teabags, which are honestly pretty good if you basically cook them straight up in milk with a lot of sugar, no water at all.  Not the same thing, but definitely tasty!  But then you have a pot that you've cooked milk in and all the resulting tidying up that has to happen, and that is simply not something I can see myself doing every single day.  Though I do have some very distinct and happy memories of drinking this. It is very good.

One day a couple of years ago a student brought me in some of the chai she makes every morning for her family, and lord above, I was transported back to those utterly insanely delicious moments in India. 


Then, as we are all here with covid, well, hopefully without it, but you know what I mean, and I have plenty to do every day, indeed, I rarely accomplish all I'm aiming at, but we all do need some more brainless moments of distraction, and I have been watching the Bon Appetit youtube videos.  (like that run on sentence?  It's a good one.  Glad my English students can't read this!!!)  Highly recommended!  (not the run on sentence, the Bon Appetit youtube channel)  The presenters are great and often laugh out loud funny and it's fun to see all the food I'm never going to make. 

One of the presenters is Priya Krishna, who has a new cook book out, Indianish, which I haven't read, but I am wildly tempted by.  I had actually heard her interviewed last Spring on a podcast and I was impressed.  ANYWAY, there was a video that got posted about her mom's chai.  It was so easy.  Her mom boils water, crushes a cardamom seed, drops it into the mug with the tea bag, pours in the hot water, lets it steep then adds milk and (maybe) sugar. 

*******MIND BLOWN*********

I can get close to the taste without all the boiling and straining and dirty pots??????

But just cardamom?  That seems a little distant from my memory.  So I looked up the recipe on Bon Appetit, and on that one, the full on make it in the boiling pot of milk and water version, it uses four spices:  pepper, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom.  Now we're talking my language, I adoooooore ginger!

So, today at the store?  Picked up the cardamom and ginger root.  (Imagine me rubbing my hands together gleefully!!!!!)  OK, and any British tea purists?  I don't want to hear your shade, I don't care, I am a colonial I can make my damn tea anyway I want.

So, I drink Yorkshire Gold decaf tea by preference, cause holy geez, it is so good.  But, I have to buy it in quantity in the UK and bring it with me, so it is a Precious. Commodity!!!  It is very hard to get decaf tea at all outside of anglo countries and to get good tasting decaf tea is like a miracle.  Please remember also that I live on a boat, so an electric kettle is just not a thing.  The man, the darling darling man, gets up in the morning and puts about 2 cups of water on to boil in a small pot, that is almost always used exclusively for my tea.  He then drops 1 tea bag in and it steeps for a long long time cause I like my tea strong.  Eventually I get out of bed, add milk and sugar (no haters you Brits) and I am a happy camper.  There is usually about a half to a third of a cup of tea left in the pot at the end of breakfast.  To this I add another cup of water, and put it away for afternoon tea, when it gets reheated and sugar and milk are added.  (LA LA LA LA I'M NOT LISTENING!!!)  (SPEAK TO THE HAND!!!)  And I am very very happy.  Since we got on the boat, we are also channeling Peggy and having a cookie (yes a cookie, I'm Canadian, live with it!) with afternoon tea, and I give a silent greeting and salute to Peggy with my cookie and tea every day.

But now, and this is when true greatness happens.  So, in the morning after drinking my tea I'm adding a pinch of cinnamon, a smashed cardamom seed, a slice of ginger and a grinding of pepper to the tea, and putting it away till the afternoon.  Reheat, milk, sugar.

OH my goodness.

Oh oh oh oh oh

Now, I have to admit, it still isn't as good as the boiled milk version, but it is, without a shadow of a doubt, completely and utterly worth it.  SOOOooooooo delicious.

If I come to stay with you in future, I may have brought a ginger root, cardamom seeds and cinnamon with me.  I'm assuming you'll have pepper. Not saying you should try it, but, if you aren't completely rigid and fixed in your ideas of what tea should be, this is a damn fine drink.

Love ya!  Byeeeeee.

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