Things in the desert are cooling down. Moderately. It doesn’t really feel like Fall, especially if you’re used to trees turning outrageous colors or the nip of frost on the pumpkin.
That doesn’t happen here in October.
But, the nights gets cool, if not down right chilly and we wake up in the morning with some kind of anticipation of something, even if we end up playing in the sprinklers in the afternoon and sucking on popsicle.
So with this in mind, I present what I whipped up on a recent pretend-Fall morning.
When I was in between university and high school, I spent a summer working as a barista at this local coffee place on the old main street of the town where I grew up. The kind of place with sagging couches, poetry readings on Tuesday night and folk jams on Saturdays. Best summer job ever. At the time, though, I didn’t drink coffee. But I’d drink chai, and a few weeks ago, I started having cravings for it. Not that iced stuff that you get at Starbucks, with frappé whatever, but nice, hot chai tea.
So I made some. And this is what I did:
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (or 8 cardamom seeds)
4 black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks
1 1-inch pice of fresh ginger, sliced
2 cups milk, 2% or whole (but not skim)
4 bags Darjeeling
Sugar, to taste (or honey, if you prefer)
Crush cardamom, cloves and peppercorn with a mortar and pestle or with a rolling-pin and a heavy plastic bag. If I was doing it again, I’d prefer a little less pepper flavour, so I might leave them whole. Place crushed spices, cinnamon sticks, ginger, milk+2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to just a boil. Add tea bags, cover and let steep for about 10 minutes. Strain into cups. Add sugar to taste (I used over a tsp per cup, but you might want more).
The Verdict: Fragrant and comforting. A good straining method is imperative so you don’t feel like you’re swallowing bark with your tea. I’m not sure how authentic this is, but it work for a chai fix.
I cheat and buy Chai tea bags.
I’ve done that, too. I was actually pretty surprised how easy it is to do it from scratch. Just took a bit more waiting.