Iced Chai Saffron Latte
THEME: TYPES OF TEA
What is tea? Tea is the young leaves and buds picked from an evergreen shrub called camellia sinensis. All the different kinds of teas we know come from a specific species of camellia sinensis.
There are so many varieties of tea out there that its gets really confusing which one is the best. I say the one that you like, is the best. Tea in many countries is a serious affair. Tea originates from Southwest China where is was consumed for medicinal purposes. It became popular as a recreational drink during the Chinese Tang Dynasty. Portuguese priests and merchants introduced it to Europe during the 16th Century.
Its during the 18th Century that the United Kingdom became great tea drinkers. The British Empire is instrumental in spreading tea from China to India. However, some historians indicate that the famous sanjeevani tea plant may have been the first record of tea in India.
Tea in different parts of the world are consumed in different manners. In most countries where tea is consumed, its not something that one has when in a hurry. Enjoying tea is a tradition in most of these countries. One relaxes over a cup of tea. Take the famous English Tea which is suppose to be enjoyed over a length of time with some biscuits, scones, quaint sandwiches etc. Most Kenyans enjoy a cuppa with mahamri or chappati in the morning. Most Indians will enjoy a cup or sweet spicy tea with some savory snack. Chinese and Japanese enjoy small cups of green tea with a meal or and after. If in Morocco, you’ll surely be greeted with a sweet or still sweeter tea which is made from gunpowder tea and mint. No don’t worry there is no gunpowder in it, its just the name of a special Chinese green tea.If in Russia, you’ll be served with a pot of strong tea and a cake.
There are so many ways of enjoying tea. Some just brew tea leaves and have it with some lemon and natural sweetener added, some brew the tea and let it brew some more with milk, like the Indians, some add a few drops of milk on top of the brewed tea like the British, some prefer herbal teas which may not have a leaf of green or black tea. Some may add a drop or two of alcohol to ward off the cold, or add a dollop of butter as in cold places one definitely needs the extra fat.
A few years ago one had not heard of tea houses, tea cafes or tea bars. Rooibos, Earl grey, Oolong, Green Tea, matcha, white tea, herbal tea, yellow tea, tisanes were all foreign words to me. Some different concoction of spices and turmeric given to us as kids to ward off ailments was just some yucky medicine and not Ayurvedic tea. Besides the normal black tea that everyone consumed at home, the only other tea I knew of was what my grandmother would call ‘Ukado’ which is a Gujarati word for spiced milky tea without any tea leaves. My first taste of green tea was during my earlier visit to UK. When the weather had turned a bit cold in the evening and my cousin brought out a huge box of different flavored green tea.Wasn’t even sure what it was, my brother chose camomile so I chose mint. Was I surprised when she came back to the living room with a tray full of hot water with hues of green in mugs. That was green tea meet Mayuri moment. I loved the taste and next day asked my sister in law if she had any green tea in her pantry. After that there has been no looking back.
I’m a huge fan of all sorts of tea. My day has to begin with a hot mug of tea. I usually let the tea brew and add a few drops of milk. When I want to enjoy Indian breakfast then the tea has to be the typical Indian kadak chai which is tea brewed with tea masala (a blend of spices), fresh grated ginger, sugar and milk. Kadak chai and tikhi puri…yummmy.
When Veena who blogs at Veena’s Vegnation decided types of tea as our #153rd theme, I nearly missed it as I had gone to Halifax. Got back last night and was in no state to make tea. Then I realized that since I’m in Montreal I can take the advantage of the Eastern Time and still make my tea. As I type its already midnight in India and another 2½ hours time it will be midnight in Kenya.
Since the heat wave is still on here in Montreal and many parts of Canada, I was sure that my tea preparation would be a cold one. I now have enough different iced tea recipes on my blog. As I was thinking what to make I remembered iced tea latte. My first taste of what the Western world likes to call as Chai Tea Latte was at Starbucks in Montreal. Chai is tea so I really don’t know why they like to call it tea tea latte! What they really mean when they use the word chai its the tea masala or spice blend for tea. Chai ice cream is to die for but we’ll probably come to that at some other time. Chai latte can be served hot or cold. To serve it hot make up the milky tea and then add frothed milk or cream on top. Before I have die hard coffee drinkers on my back for using the word latte, it originally means an expresso served with hot steamed milk. To take care of tea lovers tea latte came into existence where most coffee places will serve a spicy milky tea with steamed milk as an alternate.
Since I didn’t have any tea masala here I decided to brew the whole spices in water first. I’m glad I used whole spices as the latte would have become spicy if I’d added the tea masala to it.As a cooling beverage the spice taste has to be subtle and not too hot for the tummy.
ICED CHAI SAFFRON LATTE
3- 3½ cups water
1 cup milk ( any milk of your choice)
2 one inch cinnamon sticks
4 cardamoms, slightly crushed (I used a rolling pin)
a generous pinch of nutmeg powder
¼ tsp saffron
2-3 tsp black tea leaves (or 3 teabags)
4-6 tsp sugar or a sweetener of your choice
some whipped cream (optional)
- Add water and cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns in a saucepan and bring it to boil over medium heat.
- Let the water simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. This allows the oils and flavors of the spices to infuse into the water.
- Take the pan off the heat.
- Add the nutmeg powder, sugar, tea leaves and saffron. Cover the pan or teapot and let the tea and saffron infuse for 5-7 minutes.
- Strain the tea mixture. At this stage you can store the tea in the fridge till required.
- For each serving take ¾ cup of the brewed tea and add ¼ cup cold milk. Mix well.
- Pour the chai or tea over some ice cubes. Top with some whipped cream and serve immediately.
- To make a healthier version, you can omit the whipped cream.
- To serve hot chai latte, heat the milk before adding it to the hot brewed and strained tea. Can top it with some frothed milk or cream.
- This chai mixture tastes really good when served with loads of ice without any milk or cream as a cooling beverage.
- Adjust the amount of spices used according to your taste.
- Store the brewed tea mixture without adding milk or cream in the fridge till required.
- The amount of tea required will depend on the kind or brand of tea you use. I used Kericho Gold tea (not paid to advertise their products) which is quite a strong tea.
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