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How to Make the Perfect Traditional Indian Tea and Masala Chai

Indian homes are known for their warm hospitality and the Indian homemaker takes pride in her cooking abilities in bringing out elaborate delicious dishes and serves it with love to her family and friends. Go to any Indian home and you will be welcomed with a cup of warm tea or chai (Hindi) as known to the world accompanied with some homemade snacks like samosas,kebabs,pakodas ,bajjis ,muffins or cookies.Recently there has been some amazing scientific research in this revitalizing beverage revealing how the powerful antioxidant phytonutrients in tea(chai), called flavonoids, help defend the body against physical ailments and highlighting its benefits by including it in our daily diet.
In India, there are different types of tea leaves, depending on the region they are grown like, Darjeeling Tea ,Assam Tea or Nilgiri Tea. You will find that in most homes,Brooke Bond Red label (Assam Variety) or Taj Mahal Brand, which gives tea its color, and Darjeeling Green Label, which is aromatic & full of flavour ,are used to prepare chai or a blend of both are used to prepare Masala Chai.

Generally Brooke Bond is the preferred tea powder to prepare Masala Chai Tea as it has a stronger flavour and goes well with the masala spice.You can use tea bags instead of loose tea powder.
Here's how to prepare a wonderful cup of plain simple chai or Indian tea
1 cups of cool water
2/3rd cup whole milk ( or you can use 2% or skim milk)
3-4 tsps sugar (it depends on your choice)
3 heaped tsps of loose black tea powder (any brand of your choice)
Add water to a stainless steel vessel and bring to a boil. Add the milk and sugar and bring it to boil again and simmer. Add the tea powder and once the mixture rises to the brim remove from heat immediately and turn off heat.Let it sit for 2 mts.

Now use a fine mesh tea strainer to strain the tea.This serves 2 cups of simple plain chat.
If you are using skimmed milk or 1%, decrease the amount of water and use more milk.You can use whole spice instead of the pre-ground spice mix for more potency of the whole spice.
Preparing chai tea is an art and I grew up watching my mom preparing tea and learnt how to make Masala Chai from my her.Each home has its own spice blend to make Masala Chai.

We make our spice mix or masala chai spice mix by coarsely crushing the whole spices (green cardamoms, black pepper, ginger,cloves, cinnamon).Here's how you perpare Masala Chai:
1 cups water
2/3rd cup whole milk
3-4 tsp. sugar (or to taste)
3 teaspoons any loose black tea or 4 single tea bags
1/4th teaspoon Masala Tea mixture (Pound 1 cinnamon stick (1" inches), 2 green cardamom pods ,2 black peppercorns ,1 clove,1/2 tsp ginger powder)
Add water to a stainless steel vessel and bring to a boil.

Add the masala tea spice mixture. Let it boil for a minute.Now add milk and sugar and bring to boil again and simmer.

Add the tea powder or tea bags. Once the mixture rises to the brim remove from heat immediately and turn off heat.Let it sit for 2 mts. Use a tea strainer and strain the tea into two cups and serve hot.
Note: You can play with spices to suit your taste and instead of the Masala Chai mixture you can add a pinch of cardamom powder or ginger pwd or fresh ginger.Whenever we were down with the cold blues my mother would add ginger and black peppercorns to the tea instead of the usual masala mix.

You can read more about how to fight cold with effective home remedies like ginger tea, herbs and spices here.

By: Sailaja Gudivada

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