Nov 1, 2012

IHCC: Indian Tea Party

Being Southern, you'd think I'd have sweet tea gushing through my veins.  Yall.

Truth is, I can't stand the stuff.

So now you know.

I'm a plain tea girl.  When a waiter asks, "Sweet or unsweetened?" I answer with a most definite, not-quite-a-growl "UN!"  An "un" that says bring me sweet and I'll kick your ass, shugah.

I do drink tea--gallons of it.  Barrels of it.  Aside from morning and after-work coffee, iced tea is my drink of choice.  I just choose to drink it un.

And I use a lot of teeth whitener.

When I'm sick, it's a different cup of tea.  At the slightest hint of a sore throat, I switch to hot tea.  Then the milk and sugar or honey come out.

I have very strict rules about these things.

But as they say, rules are meant to be broken.  Even (or maybe especially) crazy ones I make up just because.

Madhur Jaffrey's Easy Masala Chai (Indian Spiced Tea) was a huge rule-breaker.  Sugar, milk, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger.  Black Pepper.  Whoooo...gettin' wild up in here, yall!

At first I didn't think much of this tea.  To be honest, I thought it was quite bland.  Then I realized I had just eaten a square of 86% cacao dark chocolate (Ghirardelli Midnight Reverie).  Anything will be bland after that.

The chai does have subtle flavors.  Initially.  Then the black pepper hits at the back of your throat.  Not the best thing for a sore throat, but I liked that spicy pop much more than syrupy sweet tea.  The sweetness here is just barely apparent.

I chilled the leftovers and had an iced glass the next day.  Cold, the pepper was less prominent, but the other spices--like the cinnamon and cardamom--came forward.  While hot may be traditional, I'm partial to chilled chai.

I Heart Cooking Clubs is having an Indian Tea Party this week.  Stop in for tea time.


Easy Masla Chai
from At Home With Madhur Jaffrey: Simple, Delectable Dishes From India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka

3 cups water
1/16 tsp each (a pinch of each): ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground cardamom (or 4 whole pods), ground ginger, black pepper
3 black tea bags
2 cups whole milk
4 tsp granulated sugar, or more to taste

Add water to medium saucepan. Add cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger, pepper and tea bags. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover. Simmer 10 minutes. Add milk and sugar. Raise heat to medium; bring to simmer. Pour through fine mesh strainer, discarding solids.

Makes 4 servings.


  1. ah a fellow tea lover! and none of this herbal stuff - that is just hot water to me! Indian Chai is one of my favorites, that is as long as you stay somewhat authentic. The Starbuck's variety tastes like liquefied pumpkin pie to me. You've got it right. Steep the tea (usually 'street' chai also adds the sugar when steeping), then add the milk and leave on the heat to bring it back up to just under a boil. then strain (leaving the tea in too long makes it bitter, and adds more caffeine!) ok, now I need to go make me a cup!!

  2. Wow. I don't think I've ever met a Southerner who didn't drink sweet tea! lol. I have only had chai once and it was nice. A little different from what I'm used to. I like the sound of this Easy Masla Chai ... I should give it a try!

  3. Okay, I'm lost on the fact that you don't like sweet tea? Huh? No problem. I've got it all covered. I'll go ahead and drink your share for you.

    I'm going to make this tea too and I'd venture to say that I'll like it better chilled too. Looks tasty!

  4. I'm in the same boat with the Sweet Tea thing. Though, being a West Coaster (Southern Oregon) by birth, and then living in the Detroit area for 13 years, the first time I was asked "Sweet or Unsweet?" I just stared at the waitress with a blank expression of confusion.

    I mean, what?! If I want it sweet, I'll add a sweetener. I guess I can be excused, since I'm a Northerner?

    I'm also with you on the pepper. Love it in the chai, for the spicy notes and the gentle warmth it brings!

  5. I agree this is one lovely tea! I like to drink it warm, as the spices are extremely fragrant while the tea is warm. I got to try it with black pepper!
    Have a great weekend!

  6. Ooo I do like the sound of chilled chai! Definitely going to have to try that!

  7. Anonymous11/03/2012

    A slightly different the thought of the black pepper... Might have to try simmering a few black peppercorns in my spice mix the next time... Chilled chai could be in my future! Thanks for sharing!

  8. You know, I've always drinken my Chai warm - but I'm liking the sound of iced chai. I think I'll be trying it once the warm weather comes back!!

  9. I liked mine cold the next day too. Looks wonderful!

  10. A southern girl drinking UNsweet Tea. I do declare!!! I am surprised they haven't sent you packing!! LOL

    Masala Chai is my all time favorite tea - hot or cold. Thanks for the recipe.

  11. I'm an "un" tea drinker too. I do chai though and I never knew there was pepper in it. :-)

  12. Masla Chai is my regular tea all winder :)
    I looooooooove it :)
    I don't make it mysel but by tea-bag, and use vanilla milk
    I should try now your recipe :)


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