There have been very few drinks that have affected a nations wealth and prosperity as much as tea, a drink that my own beloved countries government went into the wholesale dealing and distribution of opium to get their hands on. Tea a very powerful substance indeed and as such one that is so deeply ingrained into the British Psyche as to be considered an institution, it is very difficult to go anywhere without someone suggesting “a nice cup of tea”. I for one love it, my wife the venerable Mrs Demonology hates it although is always happy to make me a cup of the steaming brew whenever I may ask!
That said she prefers coffee, a drink that I deal with everyday at work short and strong, no cappuccino for me Espresso all day everyday, keeping me wired and on the edge. I find strong short black coffee assists me to deal with the drudgery of the everyday existence that is my working world.
At home however my preference is always tea, and is the first and last drink of the day for me. Again my preference here is none of the fancy pants lap sang su shong, or the myriad of teas that you can see through that taste of little or nothing, without the addition of a little lemon to get the tea to taste of something; as a lover of curry and lover of strong tastes I guess you might have already worked that one out about me, with my preference being the lovingly entitled Builders Tea!
That’s not to say that I am not fairly picky in that I go for one brand Yorkshire Tea not grown on the high altitude tea plantations of the Yorshire moors just north of Wakefield but a tea that originates from the Asam tea plantations of India and one that is high in tannin, caffeine and the strong dark leaves that make up that particular blend. This is real tea and the perfect example of everything that is the basis of the term Builders Tea named as such during the first world war by the Ministry of munitions to indicate an all round tea that could be served during the tea breaks that speckled the working day of that time…..Builders Tea is and was never meant to be a refined drink always served in a mug and if sticking to the pure meaning of the term Builders Tea containing at least two teaspoons of sugar and of course an ample quantity of milk but always strong and robust. I fully support that idea entirely, however I do prefer my cup or mug to be made of China but apart from that I follow the idea of builders tea lock stock and two teaspoons of sugar thank you very much………
My point here is that tea is a preparation not merely an infusion of leafs which brings me on to where I would suggest the origins of Masala chai lay!
Masala Chai is in the Premier League of Tea and is world renowned as something that is above and beyond the normal, so much so there are instant variations on sale and many many pre-prepared mixes of spices to please the palate. I on the other hand prefer the longer version and make my own from scratch and usually reserve it for those days when you have let the “bastards grind you down” Masala Chai fixes much on that level, this you can and should believe. Alternatively on a cold winters day is a warming and satisfying beverage that never fails to warm and satisfy……
This recipe is the milk version and as such is very rich and for that reason keep it real if you choose to follow this recipe and don’t use the skimmed variety of milk this is supposed to be creamy and satisfying so forget the fat and enjoy it for what it is …
The Whats in it…per Large cup or Mug
I teabag strong Asam Tea
I inch ginger peeled and sliced
3 black Peppercorns
5 Cardamom Pods broken
2 Teaspoons Sugar
1 inch Cnamon stick
Cupfull of milk……
The How to
Crush the herbs roughly and place them and the milk together in a saucepan, and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes or so until you can smell the aromatics of the spices and the milk has changed colour from the brilliant white of pasteurised milk, to a creamy off white colour.
You can then add the tea bag and the sugar to the simmering milky spice mix.
Continue to simmer for a few minutes more allowing the full flavour of the tea bag to infuse into the milk turning it to at least the colour of Peanut butter or darker if you prefer, sieve and serve…….
You may want to add a little boiling water after you have served this as the milk will reduce down and become even more creamy, not to mention less in volume, this is not a must merely a matter of taste, whatever you decide you can now drink it and allow the hug from the mug to wash away the strains of all that is your life ….. enjoy!