I wonder if others were singing, “The sun will come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar …” while we
sheltered from the atmospheric rivers a few weeks ago. And the sun is out, warming and healing our land
and souls. We still need water and welcome more rain storms, but in the meantime are soaking up those
beautiful rays as often as we can. Since our evening temps drop into the 30s, winter is with us and
suggests a warm, comforting beverage.
One of my favorites is chai tea.
Chai is a Hindi word for tea which can be traced back 5000 years when a king ordered a healing spiced
beverage be created for medicinal use.
The heat from the ginger and black pepper was believed to stimulate digestion; the antiseptic properties in
cloves were thought to help relieve pain; cardamom was used as a mood elevator; cinnamon supported
circulation and respiratory function; and star anise was known to freshen the breath.
My favorite masala, spice mixture, uses all of the above spices plus bay leaves and substitutes star anise
with anise seeds. Some chai recipes steep tea and milk or milk substitutes together. I prefer to steep the
tea and spices separately, heat the milk and add it to the tea. I can then store the liquid tea blend in the
refrigerator and make more as needed.
Green and black teas should begin with cold water, heated from medium until it just starts to boil.
Remove from heat and let steep for 5 – 8 minutes. The higher temperatures can release bitterness from the tea.
Epicurious recently sent this recipe for Fresh Ginger Tea. It is simple and shows other ways to create this
flavorful beverage. Your options are unlimited – tea of choice, herbal alternatives like chamomile,
4 tsp. finely grated ginger, peel on or 2 tsp ground ginger
3 or 2 green cardamom pods, coarsely crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns, coarsely crushed in a mortar and pestle
2 Tbsp. tea
3 cups milk, dairy or plant-based
4 tsp. sugar, honey or jaggery, divided, or to taste
Combine ginger, cardamom pods and seeds, peppercorns and 3 cups water in a 5-quart
pot. Bring mixture to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the tea and boil 4–5 minutes, until the
water is dark brown.
Add the milk and return to a strong boil until it threatens to boil over, about 4 minutes. (Not all
plant-based milk will rise when it boils. If yours doesn’t, let boil for 30 seconds before
continuing with the recipe and lowering the heat.) Place a wooden spoon across the pot to avoid
bubbling over. Reduce heat to low, then, when foam has settled, return to medium high heat.
Continue to boil for a total of 10 minutes from the time that milk was added, until the liquid has
reduced by ⅓ and has a deep tan color. If the foam continues to rise, lower heat slightly.
Remove from heat. Using a strainer, strain tea into 4 teacups. (For a frothy chai, pour the chai
from one cup to another a few times until bubbles form.) Add about 1 tsp. sugar (or more to
taste) per cup, and serve immediately.
While we are treating ourselves with warm, cozy and healing drinks, what else could make us feel warm and safe?
Newsome Harlow Winery has come to our aid. On their website, you will find a recipe for Shitake Dark
Chocolate Cookies. And if you find you are in a more spirited attitude, it pairs well with Newsome Harlow 2020 Petite Sirah.
These cookies are rolled in raw sugar, making them crunchy on the outside and oh-so chocolatey & chewy on the inside.