A Nice Warm Cuppa Tea

No sooner has our garden's harvest come in and there is a sudden turn in the warm days and comfortable nights. It's feeling downright chilly around here in western Massachusetts.

Our backyard crops are slowing to a trickle. The yellow beans produced a single serving in the last three days and the tomatoes are nearly gone, the cherry tomato plant still offers modest clusters to brighten the flavor of store bought mesclun mix tossed with raspberry viniagrette. But I know it won't last much longer.

Farmer Paul climbed his way to the uppermost limbs of our apple tree earlier this week and we wrapped the less ripe in newspaper for cold storage, gave away about two bushels worth of some pretty nice fruit and still managed to leave a generous number of beauties on the lower branches for friend Laura's little guy to snatch in an apple adventure today. It was an awful lot of fun to share our garden with so enthusiastic a picker.

There is consolation in seeing the ripening butternut squash looking so great. Soon, the foliage will be in high color and I'll be flipping open my copy of The Silver Palate Cookbook to page 47 to follow the recipe for Curried Butternut Squash Soup. But for this evening, I think I'll settle for a warm from the oven cinnamon sugar cookie and a cup of chai tea. Yummy.

Chai Tea

Water – While some people swear that boiling the water just right makes a huge difference in the taste, I certainly can’t tell the difference between bubbling boils and slow boils. I just like it hot.

Tea – Tea experts favor Darjeeling. But just about any non-herbal regular or decaf tea will work. I use a tea bag brand instead of loose tea with a strainer and it tastes fine.

Milk – In choosing what to put in your chai, there is one simple rule: the thicker the milk, the richer the chai. Whole milk, cream, even a little butter will go into the most delicious chais. But of course, these options come with a high calorie cost.

Sweetener – Choose your favorite sugar (brown, white, or cane) or honey. For a real taste treat try maple sugar. Each one lends a different twist to the finished tea. Artificial sweetener is okay but not great. I prefer a less sweet tea and so use only one level teaspoon.

Spices – The selection and proportion of spices used in chai tea varies. I use one cinnamon stick and one tiny drop of almond extract per cup. Occasionally, I will add a dash of Cardomom. Experiment to suit your tastes. The most common spices used in spiced chai are:

All Spice

Making the Chai

Bring water to a boil and add solid spices. Cover, reduce heat, and allow to simmer. Ten minutes is sufficient, but soaking the spices longer will continue to add to the flavor. Bring the water back up to a rolling boil, then turn down the heat. Add tea, and allow to infuse according to the directions on the package (usually 3-5 minutes, covered). Strain out the tea and spices, return hot brew to the pot. Add milk, and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat, and add vanilla, other extracts, flavorings, and sugar or honey. Stir for thirty seconds, and then turn heat to low to keep tea warm while serving.


  1. sometime, try it with soy milk. the flavor of soy and chai are amazing together. i love your blog !!


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