Homemade Masala Chai Tea

Simple, easy recipe.

Recipie: 6 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp of black tea, traditionally Assam, heaping
  • 6-9 Cardamom pods, green, whole
  • 1 Tbsp of Ginger, dried
  • 2 tsp peppercorns, freshly cracked for maximum flavor
  • 10 Cloves
  • 1-2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cups of water
  • Milk- amounts vary depending on brew method.

English brew method:

  1. Mix the ingredients together.
  2. Add the contents to a large teabag and tie up with string.  Also, this is one of the few teas, a tea ball is not the best option as the small pieces of cracked pepper, and other bits will seep out of the ball making a grit in the bottom of the teacup.
  3. Make a pot of tea however you normally do with a teabag.
  4. Serve with milk.

Traditional method:

Milk and water should add up to 6 cups, after being reduced. Traditionally, one part water to 1/4 – 1/2 parts milk.

  1. Simmer the spices in water until fragrant, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the loose leaf tea. Simmer for about 5 minutes until a dark rich color.
  3. Add the milk and remaining water to have a total of 6 cups of liquid.
  4. Heat until steaming, strain and serve.

Traditional Variations:

Kashmiri Chai: Green tea (instead of black tea), traditionally Gunpowder green, mixed with almonds, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and occasionally saffron.

Noon Chai: Brewed with salt, pistachios, almonds, cardamom, and cinnamon and a pinch of baking soda to enhance the pink color, served in a samavar, a sort of copper tea pot, and eaten with with nuts, dried fruit and Kashmiri breads if you happen to have any on hand.  Traditional served in Pakistan on special occasions.

Other spices:

  • Star Anise
  • Fennel
  • Allspice
  • Nutmeg
  • Saffron
  • Almonds (traditional cooking method only)
  • Pistacios (traditional cooking method only)
  • Mace
  • Black Cardamom
  • Rose petals, (add with looseleaf tea, in the traditional cooking method)
  • Chili
  • Coriander
  • Cumin

Spices can be added in various forms: fresh or dried, whole or powdered.  Different quantities are needed with different forms, and some spices taste very different fresh vs dried. One thing to take note of is that fresh ginger has a very different flavor than dried ginger.  One thing to not is that powdered spices are hard to strain out of the tea using the traditional method of cooking and oftentimes the spices accumulate as sediment at the bottom of your tea cup.  If you are using powdered, a tea bag should be able to hold them in.

Experiment with the spices as much as you want. I like to experiment here and there for something new but often times stick to the basics.  I generally add more cardamom, ginger and black pepper and leave out the cloves as my mother cannot have them.

 

 

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Mixing Your Own Tea

I was asked the other day if I make my own tea.  My answer was, “Yes and no.” Obviously I do not grow my own tea, but I do scent my tea.  I have various herbs, as well as different types of tea which I mix. So tonight I mixed a decaf black tea (P&G Tips) with some edible lavender buds.  And suddenly I have lavender black tea.

You can blend your own teas and keep the mixed combinations on hand. This makes sense with complicated blends like chai where it is not as simple as some mixes. I personally like to keep the various parts on hand and mix them when I make the cup of tea. That way I have the most flexibility.  No directions are really needed but here they are nonetheless.

Directions: 

  1. Boil water.
  2. Add a “base” tea. This can be loose leaf tea or in tea bags. No matter.
  3. Choose any favor or scents to it. Anything edible and plant-based can be added. Get creative.  Add the amount you think will work. You can always tweak later.
  4. Brew until the strength is to your liking.
  5. Strain tea.
  6. Enjoy from a teapot or pour it directly into the teacups

Tea’s: 

  • black tea (decaf & regular)
  • green tea (decaf & regular)
  • white tea  (decaf & regular)
  • chamomile
  • Darjeeling  (decaf & regular)
  • Earl Grey  (decaf & regular)

“scents” to mix in:

  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Mint (spearmint & peppermint)
  • Lemon peel, lemon verbena or lemon balm
  • Chai spices (ginger, white pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon) and any comb
  • Rose hips
  • Jasmine

Some combinations I particularly like:

  • Jasmine Green Tea
  • Lavender Earl Grey
  • Earl Grey with Lavender, Rose and Rosemary
  • London Fog (Earl Grey with Lavender and Vanilla)
  • Chamomile, rose & rosemary
  • Chamomile Lemon (verbena, blam or peel)
  • Ginger Black tea
  • Lemon rosemary chamomile
  • Cinnamon cardamom black tea
  • Chamomile mint
  • Chai black tea
  • so many more options… get creative

Enjoy!!

 

Ala Shanghai, Latham, NY

This restaurant is unassuming and unnoticeable when driving by. The first indicator that this restaurant is special is the large number of cars in the parking lot.  This authentic chinese food restaurant is a step above the rest. Unlike most, takeout is not the majority of their business.  They do have a takeout menu, but when entering, you see they have many tables packed with chinese families, groups of friends and the occasional “westerner.”

From the dim sum to the deserts (rice and red bean paste or egg soup with tapioca balls), everything was excellent and different from your usual chinese fare.

We did everything family style–the best way to do a meal.

What I tried:

A large pot of tea was given to us to start. We nursed it through the meal.

Starter

  • A5- Cucumber salad with sesame oil and scallions
    • a simple perfect starter. We kept it around and used it to cleanse the palate in between dishes.

Dim Sum

  • D5- Pork and Leek dumplings, steamed
    • You really cannot go wrong with pork and leeks.
  • D13- Wontons in Spicy flavor–Steamed wonton marinated with cucumber, scallion, sesame chili sauce and sesame seed.
    • These were very spicy, but very good. They were filled with something–some type of meat I think–and they were perfect.

Main Course

  • C17- Sizzling Lamb with Scallions–sautéed sliced lamb leg with scallion and Sha-cha sauce. Serve on a sizzling skillet.
    • The sizzling skillet made this a fun dish to order.
  • S9- Prawns with Honey Walnut– Light fried prawns marinated with House mayonnaise and surrounding by honey walnuts and broccoli.
    • Plan to hit the gym after. These tempura’d shrimp were covered in a sweet mayo. Fabulous, but very rich.
  • V17- Eggplant in Garlic Sauce– sautéed Chinese eggplant with minced pork in garlic sauce.
    • I loved the dish, but had mixed feelings. I love eggplant but the garlic sauce overshadowed the taste of eggplant. This is a good thing if you don’t like the taste of eggplant and love the eggplant texture, but a bad thing if you are the opposite. Because I both like the taste and texture of the eggplant, I still got the texture of it and the dish tasted good. I may order it again, or then again not because there are so many other options at this restaurant.

Dessert

  • E3- Eight Jewel Sticky Rice – Steamed sticky rice topped with dried fruit and stuffed with red bean paste in the middle.
    • FAVORITE. I love sticky rice. I loved this version. FABULOUS
  • E5- Tiny rice ball in Sweet Soup– Tiny rice ball with fermented glutinous rice and Osmanthus in sweet thick soup. For 2 servings
    • I liked it but not compared to the sticky rice. I could not even eat a quarter of it. Perhaps it was because of the feast we had earlier?  My partner of crime professed the dish perfect.

I would recommend this restaurant– a great place to take the family or a group of friends.  Get cosy with family style.

Ala Shanghai (
468 Troy Schenectady Rd
Latham, NY 12110

Website: http://alashanghai.net/

York: Traditional Afternoon High Tea at Betty’s

York is apparently home to the High Tea.  It is not that High Tea was invented here, but rather that this is the place to get High Tea in England.  After doing a bit of research, I found that the most famous place to get High Tea in York is at Betty’s.  Since I am Betty, that decided it!!

My friend had to put up with a lot from me.  You see, I was so excited about this.  This is what I had been looking forward to for at least a month.  So of course, she had to deal with me taking photos, and I made her take photos of me.  She was a really good sport.

A photo taken by yours truly.

We both already knew what we were going to order.  We were getting their Betty’s Traditional Afternoon Tea.  All we needed to decided what what type or flavor tea we should have with it.  Actually, we were informed that we could have the Afternoon tea with a choice of Tea, Coffee or Hot Chocolate, even though it only said tea on the menu.  But I am a purist, and I LOVE tea.  Plus, I feel like coffee and hot chocolate would be too much for the delicate flavors of everything else.

Me reading the menu!!

The tea came in a lovely silver plated (I am assuming it is plated) tea set.

Me after our tea had arrived.

Once our food came, served in a trio of plates on a stand.  As tradition dictates, you work from the bottom up.  We started with the sandwiches.  There were four types:

Scottish Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese

Roast Yorkshire Ham

Roast Free-Range Chicken Breast

Egg, Mayonnaise and Cress

The scone was a sultana scone.  Sultanas are a really good type of golden raisin.  The scone was served with Yorkshire clotted cream and strawberry jam.

Look at the scrumptious food!!

We were so full and warm by the end of it.  It really was lovely.  After that, it was time to head back into York, and explore.  But, before we did that, we had to pick something else up for the friend who dropped us off at the wall on her way to the train station.  She was planning on joining us that evening.  We ended up getting a marzipan pig from their little shop on the first story.

She ended up being silly, and we took a photo of it.

I wanted to get something special for my grandmother.  She would have loved it.  I was named Betty after her.  My grandmother and I would cook together and drink lots of tea together.  I thought about her a lot that day and how she would love it there.  I wanted to give her something special from the place.  I figured the tea would get old in that time.  There was a cookbook, but it was fairly expensive, and I had already purchased a book that day.  I did not have room for anything else.  I ended up purchasing a post card and I mailed it to her.

We had an absolutely fabulous time.

Address:

46 Stonegate
York
YO1 8AS

Telephone:
+44 (0)1904 622865

York: The Afternoon: Exploring the Shops

York is fabulous.  There were so many unique and creative shops.  A lot of these shops were located in “The Shambles,” an area that looked like something out of a Harry Potter movie.  The houses looked like they were going to spill into the streets!

 

Entering The Shambles

 

Actually in the Shambles

 

 

There were so many little tea shops, craft shops, just see for yourself!

 

This store was styled in the way that my friend envision her house would be styled in.  It was a beautiful hodgepodge of precious and colorful items.

 

See, she is in heaven!

This store even had the table made up for a mix-n-match china tea party!

 

 

 

 

Everything was rustic chic.  It looked like a really cute cottage.

 

 

In the front of the store, there was an arts and crafts section that sold ribbons, buttons, fabric, wrapping paper and more!

 

 

My friend again in heaven again!  In this photo she is completely amazed at how awesome the place was!!

 

 

This one below is a part of the store where my friend bought her Rose Black Tea.  All of the little jars are samples of some of the flavors of tea they had.  This was where you could open any of the jars and smell the tea.

 

 

We walked around the town and took in the sights.  There was an outdoor flower market, a square that had musicians performing, and several churches.  There were also lots of very cute clothing shops as well and many other tea shops.  It was absolutely lovely.

London: Twinings Tea

So, I do not know if you know this about me, but I love tea.  I absolutely love it.   Because of this, I wanted to see the Twinings tea store in London.  Now, in order to understand why I wanted to do this, let me give you a little history about the introduction of tea to England.

As you may know, many years ago, England ruled the world.  Coffee was very popular, and Twinings was a coffee shop in London.  In order for Thomas Twinings to be competitive with other coffee shops, Twinings started to sell tea to Londoners.  This made Twinings the first tea shop to open in London.  It opened in 1706.   It was only later that the East Indian Trading company joined the tea trade.  So, of course I had to see this very important and historical store.

The store is very narrow.  It is only about 10 feet wide, maybe not even that, but it is long.  Outside, you see the logo and are invited to enter and have a free cup of tea!

 

Upon entry, one stairs down the length of the shop and is in heaven!  There are shelves on either side filled with tea, tea cups, tea pots, books about tea and even more tea.  The upper part of the walles are filled with portraits of members of the Twinings family.

 

 

 

I think I have died and gone to tea heaven.  Or at least tea-vana.

 

 

And look!  There are still remnants of the fact that Twinings started out as a coffee shop!  They sell different types of coffee beans.

 

 

I do not have a photo of it, but if you continue into the store, this is where they sell their specialty bulk tea.  They had many different types of exotic teas (orchid) as well as some herbal ones (rose and chamomile).  These are located on one wall while on the other side is where one can do tastings.  Unfortunately we were in a rush, otherwise I would have tasted one of the specialty teas.

Cardiff: All in a day

I’m picking up riding again, and what better place to do it than in the United Kingdom.   In order to prepare for my first lesson, there were a couple of things I needed to buy:  boots, britches, crop and gloves.  You can rent helmets.  Outside of Cardiff, there is a giant equine supply store called Robinsons.  It is in Taff Wells.  Google maps said it was 4.8 miles away.  If this was the United States, I would hop into my car and be there in 10 minutes.  I could walk there, but that would take an hour and 40 minutes of walking accord to omniscient Google, and then I would have to walk back.  Public transportation, i. e., waking and the train, takes 40 minutes to get there.  A 13 minute walk to the train station, a 12 minute train ride and then a 16 minute walk to get to Robinsons.  I decided to write all the directions down and look up specific train times.  I figured while I was there, I should look around.  I Googled shops near Taff Wells Train Station, and viola! I found a store called Hoss Equine which sold second hand riding boots and the like in addition to new apparel.  To top it all off, Hoss Equine was a 4 minute walk from the station instead of a 16 minute one like Robinsons.  So, I woke up at 8:00, took my time getting around and left my room at about 9:10am.  I made it to the store by 9:40, they gave me a cup of tea and had finished purchasing everything I needed by 10:15.  I had planned on my shopping trip taking more time and the rest of the day was dedicated to exploring the area, so I asked them what they recommended.  According to them, there was nothing in this town, but I could hop on the train to LLandaff and see the cathedral.  Also, there was a pretty little tea shop at the top of the hill that I would stop into.
                I took the train to Llandaff and asked the next woman I could find how to get to the cathedral.  I was informed that it was a 30 minute walk and was pointed in the correct direction.   I asked several women along the way how to get there, and they were more than pleased to guide me along my way.  The reason why I asked women is simple.  I am a female with relatively no strength in an unfamiliar town in a new country who does not know where they are going and I am alone.  All of this you can determine by looking at me and talking to me as my accent is obvious.  I feel safer with an elderly woman knowing all this than a man knowing this.  The walk was beautiful and the cathedral was too.   On the way, I saw a bike path that was along the river.  It reminded me of my parents.
The river and the Cathedral Tower
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The bike path along the river
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Once you get near the cathedral, there is a square.
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 At the corner of the square is a staircase that descends to the base of the church.
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The church is open to visitors.
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Once I arrived, a woman greeter decided to take me under her wing once she found out I was from New York.  She told me about the history of the cathedral, pointed out the different pieces that had been added throughout the centuries and told me about a the organ recital that would be given that afternoon.  Yes, it was 11am and the recital would be at 2pm, but I decided to stay.
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 The oldest thing in the church was a celtic cross dating back to an older church on the same spot.
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In 1941 a German bomb landed near the church, causing the tower to fall on the roof, which knocked the room down.  You can still see the crater left from the bomb and the memorial that stands on it.
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After the cathedral, I inquired about the tea shop and headed there to pass the time, warm up, and have lunch.
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camera 032 The concert was very good.  There was the Organ Club meeting followed by the recital/lecture.  In between every piece played, a speaker would give an in-depth history about a part of the construction of the organ.  A lecture also spoke about the history of all the organs that had been in the cathedral.  Talking about organ pressure, acoustic shadows and the mechanics of the organ was very interesting. The organ currently had 4,000+ pipes.
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