Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ginger Tea

Originally posted on 17/Jul/07

You must be thinking that it's ridiculous to have a post dedicated to something as simple as tea, but lately it has an important place in my daily routine. My love affair with tea is rather recent... growing up, my father and I never had tea or coffee, it was always milk with Maltova. We even refused it when offered occasionally. I have indulged in some 'Lemon Tea' a couple of times when visiting my father's office - it was an extremely sweet, golden coloured tea with no milk but lemon juice added- but that's about it.

During my University days, I used to have some tea once in a while to wake me up from the afternoon drowsiness that comes from poring over books in the comfy, air-conditioned library or to keep me awake for an intended overnight cramming session just days before the exams! We used to head out around 11pm or so to the nearby 'Hawker Center' (they are ubiquitous in Singapore) and order some 'Thé Aaliya' which translates to Ginger Tea. It was absolutely heavenly - it was hot, had a strong ginger flavour and was sufficiently sweet. They would pack it in a plastic bag with a straw to boost and that would really hold us over for quite some time - so our chatting (ahem, studying) could continue.

After I begun work, we rarely made tea and I didn't even know how to make it properly. My friend Suman was always assigned this task since she made the best version. Later we begun having some cold bubble tea... which is basically milky fruit juice (hardly any tea) with chewy tapioca balls and a wide straw so we could get a few of those tapioca balls to chew. A very interesting experience and a delicious one at that. It was so popular at one point and there were so many stalls along Orchard Road that sold these.

Moving on... my husband, Arun was also not a tea or coffee person so again it took a backseat after my marriage... until we moved to DC and our weekends with our friends and neighbours (Raji & Nirmal) were incomplete without a cup of tea. So, i started enjoying it on a more regular basis. This intensified once my in-laws, who are avid tea drinkers, visited us. That's when I started consuming it more often and now I have it practically every evening - I even crave for it! I almost always add grated ginger to it and sometimes to make it special, I add some powdered cardamom to finish it off. Recent Sun TV ads introduced me to this special blend of tea (Brooke Bond Natural Care) which has 5 herbs/spices added to it, which makes it more flavourful and even healthy - I soon got some packets of it from india and we like that a lot.

I like to think I make a decent tea. There has been some research of late that suggests that drinking tea with milk reduces it's antioxidant properties but I don't really drink it for it's health benefits but more for the soothing, comforting feeling it brings about. So, my recipe calls for very little water and lots of milk.
Even as I start to make the tea, I get more relaxed...
Here's how I do it...
Serves: 2

Water - 1/4 cup or less
Ginger - 1 inch piece crushed/grated fine
Sugar - 2 to 4 tsp. depending on your sweet tooth
Tea powder - 1.5 tsp to 2 tsp (again depends on the type of tea you have)
Milk 1% - 1 cup
Elaichi - a pinch, powdered

- Add ginger to the water and bring it to a boil
- Add sugar and tea powder at this point and let it boil for about a minute or until the colour changes to a brown *the aroma at this stage is so inviting and soothing*
- Now add the milk and let it come to a boil. Keep a close watch since it will boil over just when you decide to turn your head away (a warning based on the many times I've had to clean the stove because of this)
- Reduce the flame to very low and let the milk simmer for as long as you want (longer, stronger the tea).
- Add powdered Elaichi, switch off and let the tea just stay for a few minutes before you filter it and serve with some rusk, biscuits or biscotti.



- Sit back, enjoy the heartwarming (ginger does that) hot tea and unwind after a busy, maddening day.

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