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Indian Railway Tea (Chai)

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Anyone who’s ridden the rails in India will recall the ubiquitous chai-wallas (tea vendors) who serve hot, spiced tea in small, handmade, sun-dried red-clay cups. No chai tastes better, unless you make it at home with fresh spices, as in this recipe.

When finished, you simply smash the cup on the ground. This arrangement is a perfect example of appropriate, earth-friendly technology, with just one minor drawback. If you linger over your tea too long it will begin to taste a bit “earthy,” and the cup will gradually melt into mud!

Indian Railway Tea (Chai)

Makes one quart

2 cups water
3 to 4 whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
8 whole peppercorns (optional)
1 marble-sized piece fresh ginger root (optional)
3 to 4 cardamom pods (cracked open)
1/4 cup loose organic Darjeeling black tea (or 4 tea bags)
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons sugar or honey (optional)

  • Add spices to water and bring to a boil; reduce heat to low (almost off) and steep for at least 30 minutes. Add tea and let steep 3 minutes. Add milk to tea-spice water, and raise heat to medium until tea is steaming, but do not allow it to boil. Pour through a sieve to strain out spices and tea, and add sugar or honey to taste (optional).

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