When I was in high school I went on a school trip to Sikkim, India. We started out visiting a rural school in Nepal, delivering much needed school supplies, and then bussed our way to Sikkim for some trekking through the Himalayas. I had just turned 17 and had never seen snow. I could not WAIT! Needless to say, the Himalayas are an impressive first-snow experience. Little did I know I would soon be trekking through it, thigh-high in places (to my delight and the bemusement of our guide), on what would later be remembered as the never-ending trek to a Hot Springs we never found. But the memories are priceless. When we returned to the lodge (more like a yurt than a lodge), exhausted, and cold at the end of the day, having hiked 18 kilometers in the snow and some of us suffering from the altitude, we huddled around the wood-burning stove and our hosts gave us steaming mugs of the most delicious tea I had ever sipped. It was black tea from Darjeeling I was told. We had, in fact, passed through Darjeeling on our bus ride. I had pictures of the tea fields…along with a florescent green goat who had not escaped the Festival of Holi unscathed.
Maybe it was the circumstances surrounding that first sip of Darjeeling tea but it has since always tasted of adventure to me. So, I invite you to make a batch of this Spiced Chai, sit back and take a trip down memory lane of your favorite adventures. Even better: It makes 4 cups…Make some for your spouse, your children, or a friend you love and dream of your adventures yet to come!
- 1 whole Star Anise
- 3 cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5-6 whole cloves
- 1 tsp peppercorns
- 1 inch fresh ginger, sliced and crushed with the side of a knife to release the juices:
- 3 teabags of Darjeeling tea
- 2 cups vanilla soy milk
- 2 Tbsp raw honey
Gently crush the cardamom pods and peppercorns with a mortar and pestle (or the back of a wooden spoon.)
Place all spices and the ginger root in a medium saucepan. Add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
Remove saucepan from heat, add the tea bags and allow to steep for 10 minutes.
Pour vanilla soy milk into the sauce pan along with 2 Tbsp of raw honey (or more if you like your chai extra sweet.) Place saucepan back onto low heat and allow to steep for about 10 more minutes.
Strain to serve and enjoy!