casaveneracion.com How to make: Masala chai (spiced tea)

How to make: Masala chai (spiced tea)

Chai means tea in several South Asian languages. Masala (literally, a mixture of spices) chai means spiced tea although many people associate masala chai with spiced milk tea.

The addition of milk is a British influence. Tea has been grown in some South Asian regions for thousands of years but tea was used as an herbal medicine rather than as a beverage in South Asia. It was not until the British ran into problems with the Chinese cohong did they start attempting to grow tea elsewhere to cut off the dependency from Chinese tea. It was after the British started cultivating tea in India did tea become known as a beverage in that part of the world.

Because the flavor and aroma of spices can be strong and overpowering, spiced chai is best made with strong black tea rather than green tea as teas with delicate flavors will get overwhelmed by the spices.

Last night, I was learning to prepare chai — or tea — the South Asian way. I started with spiced tea then made masala tea. Speedy and I tried both, and we decided we like our spiced tea without any milk in it. I used loose leaf Burmese black tea to make our spiced chai.

What spices are required for making spiced chai? Well, there seems to be no strict combination. [Read more...]

Masala chai (spiced tea)

Chai means tea in several South Asian languages. Masala (literally, a mixture of spices) chai means spiced tea although many people associate masala chai with spiced milk tea.

The addition of milk is a British influence. Tea has been grown in some South Asian regions for thousands of years but tea was used as an herbal medicine rather than as a beverage in South Asia. It was not until the British ran into problems with the Chinese cohong did they start attempting to grow tea elsewhere to cut off the dependency from Chinese tea. It was after the British started cultivating tea in India did tea become known as a beverage in that part of the world.

Because the flavor and aroma of spices can be strong and overpowering, spiced chai is best made with strong black tea rather than green tea as teas with delicate flavors will get overwhelmed by the spices.

Last night, I was learning to prepare chai — or tea — the South Asian way. I started with spiced tea then made masala tea. Speedy and I tried both, and we decided we like our spiced tea without any milk in it. I used loose leaf Burmese black tea to make our spiced chai.

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What spices are required for making spiced chai? Well, there seems to be no strict combination. [Read more...]

Lemongrass iced tea with wild honey

casaveneracion.com Lemongrass iced tea with wild honey

The lemongrass iced tea you see in the photo was made from fresh lemongrass stalks. The stalks were boiled, allowed to infuse and cooled. Then, I added honey, slices of lemon and orange, and ice.

See, we stay away from powdered drinks. Not for any of the scary reasons circulating on the internet but because of a gory personal experience. When the girls were very young, around four and three years old, we were huge consumers of Tang. One day, the girls decided to mix a pitcher of juice, the pitcher tipped over, tumbled down the floor, broke into smithereens and all the juice spilled on the kitchen floor. Because I was more concerned about the broken glass, I told the girls to stay put, walked over, lifted them one after the other and deposited them several meters from the accident scene. I checked their feet and legs for splintered glass and, after I was sure that they were both unscathed, I went outside, located the mop and started cleaning up.

Between the time the juice spilled and the floor mopping, there was an interval of a few minutes. To my surprise, the area where the juice had spilled appeared bleached. And I mean bleached. The white floor was whiter and the glossy surface had turned dull. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out — there was enough acid in the powdered juice drink to bleach the floor. We started buying less powdered juice drinks and the interval got longer and longer. It took a while to wean the girls from powdered juice drinks but, in time, we were able to exorcise all forms of powdered juices from the house — including powdered ice tea mixes.

[Read more...]

Have you ever drank a rose?

casaveneracion.com rose-bud-iced-tea

When I was in Kuala Lumpur last year, I visited a tea shop called Purple Cane in the Chinatown district. I bought several canisters of loose tea leaves and the small ones I gave away as gifts to friends last Christmas. One large canister went to my mother; another, to my brother. The last two large canisters, I kept. One contained green tea and the other one contained jasmine tea. Or so I thought.

When I opened the second canister last Sunday, I was so surprised. No jasmine tea inside. Instead, whole dried rose buds. I double checked the label and, sure enough, it said Rose Tea. With a mixture of excitement and trepidation, I proceeded to brew the rose buds and made iced tea. [Read more...]

Green tea with fresh tarragon and lemon

Add a new depth to your usual cup of green tea by infusing it with fresh herbs and fruits. No, not by using flavored tea in teabags — don’t you taste the paper? If you watch NCIS: Los Angeles, there was an episode when G. was making a cup of tea for himself and Hetty smirked when she saw the teabag. And she asked, “Don’t you taste the paper?”

Personally, I don’t but it’s an interesting anecdote anyway. It’s been ages since I had tea from a teabag. I’ve gotten the hang of the tea ritual — warming the teapot and cups, letting the tea leaves steep in hot water then throwing out the water, then pouring in hot water again… I’ve come to like it. A comforting ritual. And it is true that there is magic in throwing away the first pot of water as it gets rid of much of the bitterness of the tea leaves.

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So, when my younger daughter, Alex, asked for tea yesterday, I didn’t dump a teabag into a cup of hot water. I made a pot of green tea with lemon slices and sprigs of tarragon from the garden. And then we shared the tea. [Read more...]