Tea is an integral part of my day and my daily routine. Tea is also one of those rare things,that I really miss when I am unable to have it.This does not happen often, only when I am traveling, especially to southern parts of India which is coffee land rather than tea.That is not to say you cannot get tea in these parts of the world, only that the tea made there does not really taste right to me. Okay I admit it, tea is one thing that I am really very picky about. All you tea drinkers out there know that how we make tea varies the taste of the tea drastically, use a tea bag to steep the tea and you get a mild tasting tea sans the bitter taste, boil the tea leaves and depending on how long you boil the tea leaves you land up with a little bitter or a lot bitter tea.Each person likes it in their own way and there is no right or wrong way of making tea.
My brother S who also shares my interest in tea, describes the process of making tea a "constantly evolving process". That's because the way we make tea has been changing over the years. But for me the process of making tea changes with the season too. In summer I make tea with herbs like mint and basil and in winter I make my tea with ginger, cardamom and a dash of freshly ground pepper for added flavor.
Recently I came across this recipe for a spice blend for chai tea and I was intrigued, especially when I saw dried orange as one of the ingredients for the spice blend. I was eager to try it soon and luckily had most of the ingredients on hand, so I made this spice blend the same day I saw the recipe for the first time.I modified the recipe and ground the ingredients to a fine powder so that I could use it to get the flavor to blend in quicker.
Once I made it though, I was very wary and skeptical about actually using the powder in my tea. I kept getting nervous that the orange in the spice powder would cause my milk to curdle and also since I have never used coriander seeds in my tea powder, was worried how this would taste and afraid my tea would get messed up. I am happy to say my fears were totally unfounded, the tea tasted fantastic, the orange added a hint of an exotic flavor to the tea and this spice blend turned out to be a keeper. So if all the late nights and staying up on long calls with family and friends has left you groggy, try making tea using this spice powder, it should both wake and perk you up when you need it the most :-)
Ingredients and Method to make Tea spice powder
1/2 tsp whole black pepper
1 whole stick cinnamon
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
2 thin slices of orange(skin included) (any variety of orange will work)
Preheat oven to 200 deg F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or aluminium foil.
Place slices of orange on the tray and bake until dried turning once every hour. (Took me 2 1/2 hours to dry the orange).
Toss all the spices together and process in spice grinder until ground to a fine powder.
Store in an airtight container and use as required.
Ingredients and method to make Spiced Tea
1 cup of water
1 cup of milk (I use 2 %)
2 tsp of brown sugar (or any other type of sugar)
2 tsp of loose tea powder
1/2 tsp of tea spice powder from above
grated ginger as per taste
Heat water on the stove top. When it heats up add grated ginger, sugar, spice powder.
When the water begins to boil add the loose tea powder let it boil for a scant 20 seconds to half a minute and remove from heat.
Simultaneously,in a separate container heat milk until it gets to boiling point or use a microwave safe mug or dish to heat milk in the microwave until it is close to boiling point.
Add this milk to the tea and mix well and strain into two mugs.
Yields 2 cups of tea.
If you are using milk which is creamier like it is in India you may want to reduce the quantity of milk.
Adjust sugar and other spices as per taste, my tea tends to be only mildly sweet not very sweet.