It's been a rainy week in San Francisco and I've been hiding in my apartment sipping copious cups of tea trying to stay dry. In almost every Indian home, when the clock strikes four, the kettle goes on and life stops. If you're lucky, chai time comes with snacks. If you're really lucky, it comes with samosas. (I've been dying to try this recipe from Arthi Party for chicken and mango samosas.)
A classic cup of Indian chai is made from black tea (my favorites are Lipton Yellow Label or Taj Mahal), milk, and sugar. Masala chai (a version of which you get at a coffee shop whose name rhymes with Shmarshucks) includes a mixture of spices, mint, lemon grass, and ginger.
For the name-cards at our wedding, I made individual packs of tea bags and spices for each guest. I attached a note that read:
Tea for Two
There are few things better then chatting with somebody special over a cup of chai. We fell in love sitting on Danoosh’s balcony in Houston sipping cups of tea (or whiskey, vodka, or wine depending on the day).
6 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods
2 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
2 cups water
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
Crush the cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon. Transfer the crushed spices to a small saucepan, add water bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let steep for five minutes. Add the milk and sugar to the pan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and drop in the tea bags. Cover and let steep for three minutes. Stir the chai, strain it into a warmed teapot or directly into teacups. Spice it up with mint, lemon grass, black peppercorns, or ginger.