National Tea Month (Jan) – Masala Chai

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​Masala Chai is a black tea brewed with a variety of spices, and varies depending on the person making and drinking the chai. The word chai is simply the Chinese word for tea, although Western tea drinkers will often refer to this drink as Chai Tea or Chai Tea Latte, which is more than a little redundant.

Masala chai is originally from India and its surrounding environs.

There is no standard recipe for masala chai although all have four basic ingredients:

  • milk
  • sugar
  • cardamom
  • ginger

The recipe I used was adapted from this DIY Chai Spice Mix recipe and in addition to milk, sugar, cardamom, and ginger listed above, I also included allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper.

I put all of the fresh, whole spices into a blender and once they were blended and mixed, I added any powdered spices that I had. I followed the ratios of the recipe above.

My brewing recipe was as follows:

2 cups of milk, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the masala chai mix, 3 black tea tea bags (you can also use loose tea, whatever your preference). I set the saucepan to medium and brought it slowly to a boil, stirring occasionally. One word of advice would be to cut off the strings from the tea bag. This may let the tea loose, but I found some bits of string slightly caramelized with the sugar, so I would avoid that next time.

Once the tea was boiling, I poured it into a Pyrex measuring cup and poured it through a tea strainer into a mug. There was a lot of sediment between the spices and the loose tea, but the strainer did its job and it was a delicious, warm cup of spicy tea for a cold, winter morning.

Masala Chai: Top, L-R: 1. Homemade chai spice mixture, 2. Putting all the ingredients in the saucepan on medium, 3. Just after boiling; Bottom, L-R: 4. Pouring into the Pyrex, 5. Pouring through tea strainer into the mug, 6. The final look in the mug. Mmm, delicious. (c)2019


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A second method of brewing would be to make your tea as usual. Steep your tea bag, and add 1/2 tsp (or your preferred amount) of chai masala powder with any sweetener you like (or leave out the sweetener). Stir well and I would still pour through a strainer.

Happy Birthday, Baby!

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It was eighteen years ago today that I became a parent; a mother. A first baby changes things. It changes everything. From one to two to three. A little early, a little small, but a perfect baby with all the pieces that babies are supposed to come with. Things did not go as the textbooks and classes promised but the one thing they did promise is that each birth is different even as it’s all the same, and it is. Twelve days in the hospital, a feeding tube, a phenomenal rash, jaundice, but once we went home, it was baby, baby, baby, all the time, baby.

He was small but grew quickly. He ate everything including onions and broccoli, Chinese and Indian food. He tried anything you gave him. He sat up, he crawled, he walked, he ran. He never wore shoes but he always wore socks. His favorite color had always been red, and he loved fire trucks. He dressed as a firefighter for Halloween at least three times. On days not Halloween, he still dressed like a firefighter; all the time.

He used my father’s desk, and when he graduates from high school he’ll get my father’s ring. Video games and iPods, Skype with friends, theatre and stage crew.

In Jewish culture which is how I (and he) grew up, the two letters that form the word Chai translates to life. L’chaim. Chai is also 18. So this is also his Chai birthday.

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Today he turns eighteen. We celebrated yesterday because today…. what’s he doing today? He’s about an hour or so away, doing trench training with the fire department. He starts college in five months to study fire and paramedicine service. He drives, a little too fast for my comfort and he’s planning a trip to see his friend away at college, also out of my comfort.

While he’s not a baby, he’s still my baby.