As a mother to three young children, I am rarely afforded an opportunity to do something just for me. It seems like I always have questions to answer or mouths to feed or messes to clean.
But on chilly winter days I try to carve out ten minutes to brew a pot of homemade chai tea for myself. The kids never get in my way: they know if they are good they’ll enjoy a tiny cup, too.
Chai tea reminds me of India, a place I have visited more than once, before kids and grown-up life consumed my every thought. It was and is one of my favorite places on earth, and whenever I indulge my chai craving I fondly recall my time in a spicy and hazy and colorful land.
I brew the chai in a small saucepan on the stove, but I strain it into a beloved Irish tea pot given to me by my soulful grandmother. With every pot, I think about my relationship with her and the many Irish women who came before us. The tea connects me to my roots.
The tea pot is missing the lid (my son turned flung it across the room, cracking it in two). The spout is thoroughly chipped. It is tea-stained on the inside. In many ways, that tea pot is a metaphor for my life: haggard but enduring, dependable and beautiful, imperfect yet…perfect.
Homemade chai requires an array of exotic ingredients. While I’m sure my recipe is far from authentic, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Fresh ginger is one of my favorite flavors – I work it into many recipes on a near daily basis. I whisk raw milk and raw honey into the brew, simple ingredients that reflect my concern for the environment and my dedication to real foods.
Making homemade chai gives me a chance to nurture my spirit and reflect on things that matter to me. And sharing a cup with an eager 2 year-old makes it all the more sweet.
4 cups water 7-9 whole cloves ½ cinnamon stick A few whole peppercorns 1-2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and smashed 3 black tea bags A few shakes of ground cardamom 2-3 tablespoons honey 1 cup whole milk
Bring water, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns and ginger to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes.
Drop tea bags into the pan. Stir in honey. Shake in the cardamom. Let the tea brew for 3 minutes. Remove tea bags.
Increase heat and whisk in milk. Bring to an almost boil, whisk again, and remove from heat. Strain into a tea pot and serve.
. . .
Maureen Smithe Brusznicki is a wife, mother and friend to Mother Nature. When she’s not playing with her kids, experimenting with homemade cleaning products or cooking in the kitchen, she likes to blog about living a healthy and simple life at Homemade Mothering. Maureen has also ventured out into the business world by starting her own line of cloth diapers called Terra Baby.