Yes, the weather has broken and I’m sweating bullets. At least in Atlanta. I left D.C . yesterday with a chill and absolutely perfect spring morning, kissing our noses with 45 degrees. The sun was just right. The trees were swinging, trying to find their pattern and those same roses I spoke of last week, are still looking for their consistent source of vitamins to bloom.
My mornings in D.C. were made up of sitting on the deck, admiring the dewy mint leaves in our backyard, frosty evergreen pines in our front and saturated weeping willow stems that gently dropped condensation pellets on our feet. Most mornings anyway. There were only 3 days I recall where I felt I was back South bearing 9,500 pollen count and 85 degrees by 10:30 am. I don’t like to live that way.
(our Weeping Willow in our backyard seeping into our deck–view from the kitchen)
My mornings are a sacred ritual. I get up, say my prayers, do my girly things, kiss my parents, make Cuban espresso — enjoyed as a double shot or café con leche — and make my way to this laptop for the slew of emails that are wating– mostly shoe sales.
The temperature can never be too hot to enjoy a blistering hot cup of espresso. You’d have to show me some scientific research indicating that it creates some chemical imbalance in the body. Since that’s not ever been a topic of concern for any real coffee drinker, let’s just stop right there.
While I never take a break from my espresso (unless I get the flu, in which case the first thing to go is my prized beverage), I do get excited about drinking Chai Tea. Oh my. I remember working full-time in D.C. and escaping my miserable office to sip on 16 ounces of the best chai in the city. In fact, it’s the best chai I’ve had to date. Firehook. Yes, that was the name of the coffee shop.
Some time ago, I started playing around with making my own tea. I’m just not keen on dropping $4 at swanky casual beverage houses. Plus, with most things made from scratch, you’re always in control of the ingredients you use to make the special something. And more often than not, if you know what you’re doing, it’s better.
I found a few recipes online, but knew my base was going to be a black tea — a Darjeeling I found in Manhattan last year. I took those loose leaves and boiled it to the potency I wanted. I steeped and let it sit.
I then added my potpourri of spices: black pepper, cinnamon bark, cloves, ginger, cardamom and a few other goodies. Becuase I like mine really picante! I boiled all of those beautifully scented flavors, added to my steeped tea, blended it all together vey well and let the marriage warm to a bliss happy.
Of course, you have to strain the mixture, but you’ll end up with a lovely cup of spicy, bold and exotic tea that acts as a fantastic break from other morning drinks.
You could take delight and make this a latte using a delicious soy milk or cream that satisfies you. I prefer a frothy whole milk. And, I opt for raw sugar or honey to sweeten it.
Now, if only this weather weren’t so darn ridiculously imposing, I may make it more often. As with a lot of things, D.C. is better suited for this kind of enjoyment. At least in my fairytale life. For now, I’ll resort to enjoying it there or on colder days in the South — closer to October.
I guess I should have done this post last week!
SPICED CHAI TEA AND LATTE
- 6 cups water
- 3 Tbsp. loose leaf black or Darjeeling tea
- 1 cup milk, steamed (or creamer)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 12 whole cloves
- 1.5 Tbsp. black pepper or peppercorns
- 2 tsp. nutmeg
- 2 tsp. groung ginger
- 6 cardamom pods
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup raw sugar or honey
In medium bowl, bring tea to boil for about 2-3 minutes. Strain and let steep. In same bowl, boil all spices for about 3-4 minutes. Add spice mixture to steeped tea. Blend well. Strain and transfer to tea pot. Let steep and blend well for a few more minutes. Sweeten with sugar or honey. Add milk as desired for a latte. Blend that well, too. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon if desired.
Yields 6 cups.