Tea for Two

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit India on a few occasions, and it is one of my absolute favorite places in the world. From the moment I step off the plane all my senses are energized. Bright colors everywhere, smells of spices and exhaust, sounds of people laughing and yelling and begging. It is overload. In a good way.

I always feel a little sad when I leave India. I want to take all the energy and excitement and food with me in my carry-on bag. Fortunately, Chicago offers a vibrant Indian community so its pretty easy to get my Indian fix. I can wait for a dinner out to satisfy a craving for Channa Masala or Mattar Paneer, but when a craving for chai tea hits me I really want it right away.

I’m not usually a fan of hot beverages, but I will make an exception for Indian chai. However, the concentrated goop diluted with hot water at the coffee shop just will not work for me. I need real chai, with all its comforting spiciness and warmth…

…so, I turned to my dear friend Eliza for the inside scoop. Her husband is from India, so she has become my hook up to all things Indian. When I need an Indian restaurant recommendation or a cookbook suggestion I ask her for advice. She shared this simple chai recipe with me, and I feel like I kinda won the lottery. Beyond delicious – even little Evelyn couldn’t get enough! I told her that I am now a “chai wallah” (someone with the specific job of making chai) and she keeps saying “More chai, chai wallah.”

Eliza Gupta’s Chai Recipe

2 cups water
1 heaping tablespoon loose leaf black tea (I used Republic of Tea Darjeeling, but any loose leaf black tea will work)
few pieces of fresh ginger, muddled
3/4 cup milk
pinch cinnamon, cloves or cardamom (optional)

Bring water, tea, and ginger to a boil. Add milk and return to a boil till milk is frothy. Whisk and lower temperature. Bring to a boil again and whisk.

Strain tea into teacups. Add sugar if desired.

Eliza said not to add cloves or cardamom on hot days, so keep that in mind! I sprinkled a bit of cinnamon and it was divine.

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