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A Nice Warm Chai, Please!

I gotta say, "chai has become a favorite here at the camp".  Both the summer folks and the off season retreat guests love chai.  It, like any good tea, has steeped its way into the hearts and minds, and palates of Americans.  It is pretty much the gift of the cafes that have popped up all over the place.  You name it, Starbucks, Seattle Coffee, Buck County Coffee, they all serve a chai.  It is that bookstore/cafe culture that has spawned the love of chai.

It is long overdue!  Make sure you check out the "sweets" recipes in Yamuna Devi's book, Lord Krishna's Cuisine.  If you are gonna drink chai, you best use it to chase some great Indian sweets.  That will give you the full effect of chai.

My first introduction to chai was as a wake up beverage at an ashram in New York.  When on retreat, we would wake up at 4 or 5 and head to the main hall for a nice tall glass of chai.  It got you going and it warmed you up fast.

Then it was in for some chanting and meditation.  Not too much chai, though, as you didn't want to have to break off in the middle of your meditation.

There are a couple of key ingredients that you will want to play with to get the exact flavor down that you like.  I make it in 10 gallon recipes, so I won't give you my ingredient measurements.  But I will tell you what I use and you can do the homework.

Start with fresh ginger.  Grate it and put it in some cheesecloth, unless you are going to strain the chai.  Add some cardamom.  I use the whole pods.  I crack them open and put hulls and seeds in all at once.  Again, either cheese cloth or strain the chai at the end.  Cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg.  I tend to lean heavy on the cinnamon. I like a warming chai.

I use any one of a number of dark, strong teas.  I brew all of this together in one pot and leave it on the stove for at least 45 minutes.

After it is finished brewing, I add sugar to taste (good and sweet for the kids) sometimes honey.  And, the final item is half-and half.  Don't use powdered ginger unless you don't like the inner warmth provided by fresh grated.  Remember there is a difference in taste between using milk and or cream, so be sure you know what you are looking for.

Enjoy it folks!

Ciao!

+Tom


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