Who’s cold and cranky? Who’s damp and dreary? I am!
I know that the autumn weather on the Canadian side of the world is not so bad, but across the pond in Denmark, it is endlessly gross. The sun poked its head out for about 45 minutes on Saturday, but save for that scarce glimpse, it’s been over 10 days now. Help!
To pull myself out of this lousy-weather-induced slump, and warm myself up, I have developed a rather brilliant innovation: Chaice-cubes! Like Chai tea and ice put together…chaice! Allow me to explain:
At one of the restaurants where I work, we make a huge pot of chai tea every single day. It starts with boiling all kinds of delicious and aromatic spices, then adding black tea, milk and honey. The first part is essentially creating a concentrate, which got me to thinking: what if I made this amount of concentrate at home and froze it for chai-on-demand! So that’s precisely what I’ve done. This recipe will allow you to have a chai supply for weeks without the waste of tea bags, with optional caffeine, and you can even custom spice it to suit your taste!
Not just for warming up
Chai is a centuries-old beverage originating from India. In fact, the word chai, is the generic word for “tea” in Hindi, where as in the west we are referring to “masala chai” or spiced tea, when we ask for this beverage at a café.
There is no fixed recipe or preparation method for masala chai, so where ever you drink this beverage in the world, chances are it won’t taste the same way twice!
The health benefits of chai are numerous, considering the many spices it is made of. Below is a list of the spices I have included in my personal version of masala chai, and their medicinal qualities.
Ginger: aids digestion; decreases arthritic swelling; destroys bacteria and viruses; lowers blood pressure; aids circulation.
Cardamom: aids digestion and remedies gas, relieves asthma and bronchitis; stimulates the appetite.
Black pepper: aids digestion, remedies gas; has antioxidant and anti-bacterial qualities.
Fennel: aids digestion, and kidney and bladder function; relieves asthma, bronchitis, coughs, nausea; prevents gas; good for treating food poisoning.
Cloves: aids digestion; kills intestinal parasites; relieves abdominal pain; has anti-inflammatory effect on rheumatic diseases.
Cinnamon: aids digestion, relieves nausea, vomiting, diarrhea; has antiseptic properties; beneficial for the heart, lungs, and kidneys; aids insulin’s ability to metabolize blood sugar.
Star anise: aids digestion; relieves cough, bronchitis, and asthma; good for treating rheumatism.
Licorice root: relieves asthma; has many anti-depressant compounds; relieves cold and flu symptoms, coughs; relieves dandruff and psoriasis; aids gingivitis and tooth decay.
Makes a lot!
2.5oz / 70g fresh ginger
1/4 cup / 20g cloves
1/4 cup / 20g green cardamom pods
2 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns
2 Tbsp. fennel seeds
2 Tbsp. chopped licorice root
6 cinnamon sticks
5 star anise
4 quarts / liters filtered or spring water
Directions (and how to make Chaice Cubes!):
1. Place all ingredients together in a large pot.
2. Bring to a boil and then simmer with the lid off until the water level is reduced by a few inches (expect this to take 1 ½ – 2 hours)
3. Strain the pot contents through a sieve into a measuring cup or bowl with a spout.
4. Pour strained liquid into ice cube trays to freeze, or into sterilized jars/bottles for refrigeration (concentrate will last for 2 weeks in the fridge)
To make Chai with Masala Chai Concentrate:
1. Warm milk (dairy, rice, oat, nut, seed) in a saucepan on the stove and toss in a few chaice cubes! Or pour in some of the refrigerated concentrate (use an amount that suits your taste).
2. When mixture is very hot, add a black tea leaves, or a bag of your favourite black tea. Steep for indicated amount of time. Alternatively, you can drink the warmed chai concentrate and milk without tea, as I prefer, since it is caffeine-free (it’s just as delicious!)
3. Add honey, maple syrup or agave nectar to sweeten (this is an important step as it brings out the flavours of the spices). Sip slowly, warm up, and smile.
Even if the weather forecast looks dreary I can be sure that a cup of spicy warmth awaits me at the end of my day. A sachet of the spices, or a bottle of the concentrate would make a beautiful Christmas or hostess gift during the holidays. Spread the warmth and chai!
info source: Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Dietary Wellness.
New York, NY: Penguin, 2003.