The Tea I Grew Up Drinking
This past weekend I headed back home to Florida to visit my parents. I love how easily you can just slide into old habits (well, food-related anyway!) – warm apple cake with vanilla ice cream upon arrival, fresh crèpes for breakfast, and other assorted dishes from food requests I made of my mom weeks ago in advance of the trip. One thing that requires no request when I head down is a tea that was a staple in my household growing up – creamy, spiced, a touch sweet, and pure comfort.
You have no idea how hard it was to document this (seemingly simple) recipe! The mere idea that I was going to record measurements and photograph spun the kitchen (my mom and myself included) completely out of order! What normally happens by instinct, adding the tea leaves, sugar or milk for example (yes, all of the ingredients in the recipe…), became a tall task, and it somehow took us multiple takes to get this right.
Just look at what happened when we turned our back to confer on how much of the spices we added. Milk explosion and a mess!
In any case, most people these days know about masala chai or just chai, which is the Hindi/Urdu word for “tea”. The stuff in the supermarkets and the original masala chai have a ton of spices – clove, cinnamon, and even black pepper included – as well as a strong, distinctive taste. This is notthat. This is a black tea that’s brewed, lightly spiced with green cardamom and a touch of saffron, and simmered with milk until it’s thickened. The result is creamy satisfaction and slightly decadent – the actual taste of the tea shines through (not just spices). And for me? It’s an easy way to remind myself of home. Enjoy!
3 cups water
3 tbsps loose black tea (Assam, English Breakfast or whichever you like)
4 green cardamom pods, cracked
4 tsps sugar (or to your taste level)
¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup evaporated milk
In a kettle or small saucepan, bring water up to a boil. Add black tea, cardamom, saffron and sugar and boil for 1 minute. You may have to adjust the amount of black tea depending on the strength of what you are using. I used an Assam tea here. Also, you can do sugar to taste if you prefer.
Add both milks and bring up to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes until the tea has thickened a bit. Be careful not to let it boil over!
Strain and serve immediately.