Tea (all sorts but especially Earl Grey and Chai) reminds me of the high desert, specifically Boulder Colorado, where the Rocky Mountains stop (or begin) in a glorious display of sandstone rocks that jut through the trees and reach towards the sky.
The smell of spices— ginger, clove, cinnamon— merge in my memories with pine and dust, the cool mineral scent of spring water flowing over river rocks. And, like the jumble of spices in this Chai, my memory is both the sum and the parts.
The sun is hot and the water cold, seeking shelter from the summer heat in the dappled green along Boulder Creek or riding for miles on bicycles with the city and the mountains behind us, the air so clear and so bright. I am young and I know everything having just discovered the Clash and food with flavor and boys with bad reputations. I am a memory as persistent the taste of clove, as elusive as the scent of saffron, as sweet and delicate as white chocolate thawing on the tip of my tongue.
This makes a potent pot of Chai- delicious hot, iced, or frozen into popsicles.
To make the popsicles I followed the directions below using loose tea, saffron, and sweetened condensed milk.
chai recipe reprinted with permission – comments within the recipe are not mine.
This makes about a gallon.
-Bring 3.5 qts of water to a full rolling boil, then add:
- About 10 black tea bags or about 1 cup of very strong black tea (not earl grey or anything like that, english breakfast works well)
- 10 cardamom pods
- 2 inches of fresh ginger sliced thin
- 5 cloves
- 10 black pepper corns
- 1 small stick of cinnamon
- 1 vanilla pod (or tsp. of extract…not as good though)
- *optional – 2 star anise or a pinch of saffron – I always add saffron…always.
- 1 quart milk
- sugar – you choose the amount
- *optional – a can of sweetened condensed milk is a nice way to take care of both the sugar and milk.
- If you experiment with non-dairy milks or different sweeteners I can make no promises of the results.
Rolling boil everything for about 15 min. / stir occasionally to make sure nothing is burning on the bottom then let it cool down for at least half an hour (longer is fine) then bring it to a boil again and serve.
If making popsicles or iced chai strain after cooling.
Using the microwave, I melted one cup white chocolate chips with a teaspoon of coconut oil to dip the popsicles. The dipping only worked on a few popsicles before the mixture lost its smooth consistency. Fortunately, I was using my muffin tins and so simply “frosted” the tops with white chocolate. Once frozen the consistency change was barely noticeable.
If I was a more thorough resource I would have done this again until it was just right but I’m fickle, made too big a batch the first time out, and have already moved on to other things.