I remember how I fell in love with Masala Tea. Diana (my friend and partner in the Art of Real Food) and I took an Ayurveda cooking class and the smell of whatever drink the teacher was offering us during the classes kept us happy and enchanted the whole time. We found out later it's called Masala tea. It sounded magical, but the taste was a lot more than that. It's what the house smelled like at Christmas, it's what healthy and happy meant if they were a smell.
A mixture of spices that boil for a long time, Masala tea is anything but tea. I believe it's what I have heard Americans call ''chai'' which always makes me laugh, since ''chai'' in Bulgaria is any tea: the tea leaf, herbs that remind you of chicken soup, even spices and fruit that boil for a long time.
As we can see in the Wikipedia entry for Masala tea , spiced tea incorporates one or more of the following: cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, fennel, peppercorn and cloves. In the first volume of the Art of real food, we called it Himalayan tea and everyone swears that that's their favorite tea now.
When down with a cold, there are a few remedies that I call for help on: fresh citrus, especially lemons, honey, fish oil, chicken soup and Masala tea.
The best written recipe I have is by Roland, my best friend and partner in life, so here it is:
Masala Tea (or chai *)
6 cups water
1 cinnamon stick, broken up
5 thinly sliced circles of fresh ginger
5 cardamom pods
5 allspice seeds
1 cup milk
honey or stevia to taste
Heat the water to boiling in a saucepan, then reduce it to a high simmer. Crack open all the spices with a mortar and pestle. No need to grind, just crack them. You can crack the cinnamon stick in there, too. Live it up. Add the cinnamon through allspice to the simmering water, allowing it to simmer until the it's reduced by about half. Stir in the milk and sweetener, adjusting to desired sweetness. Heat through, strain into cups or a teapot and serve. There will be spices in the bottom, but that's part of the charm. Sip, don't gulp, and you'll be fine. Experiment. Adjust certain spices up or down, more or less milk, add or remove things. You can google it and find a million recipes, so you can't be wrong. Other good additions are: nutmeg (grated or ground) mace coriander seed (cracked) anise seed or star anise pods (cracked) vanilla bean (it's actually a good use for that one bean that you thought was too dried up to use) black or green tea (yes, you can actually put tea in the tea) various sugars vs the honey more milk (many do it 50/50 tea to milk) or maybe some half and half
Enjoy this as often as you can, but especially to beat the cold ;) Let me know how you boil your tea and what you like to add to it!