Friday, September 08, 2006

T Time

Munnar Tea Plantation, India. Photo by Equalizer


Driving through the winding roads upwards towards the misty and surreal tea plantation of munnar is nothing but a breath taking experience. The cool misty breeze and the undescribable greeness of the place makes you think its a dream, a true phantasmagoria. I have always seen and tasted tea in its final form, but never its original fresh form. I am sure that many people as well don't know anything about it.

Chinese mythology associates its discovery with the emperor Sin Nong, who lived in the third millennium BC. In fact the word "Cha" is Chinese for tea, chai or shai in Arabic. Tea later became an important commodity after the start of the East India Company, formed by the Dutch in 1602. At a price of around $100 per pound meant that it was only accessible to the wealthy. For those of you that don't know, it was the Dutch that first added milk to both tea and coffee. So next time you sit in a cafe' enjoying your latte you can think of the early days of the East India Company.
Ayurvedic Tea. Photo by Equalizer

It wasn't until i grew up, that I was able to enjoy drinking tea. That thing that people call Lipton is far from what good tea really is. Tea should not be that bitter. Moving into different types of tea such as Darjeeling, Assam, Oolong, Jasmine, Sencha etc. makes you appreciate the origins and different flavor profiles of each. Personally I just love tea with milk, actually hot milk with tea. This is what is called Chai Machboos, or in Kerala they would call it Chaya. The
Kuwaiti version usually comes with a few pods of cardamom to give it that aromatic flavor. Masala tea has the added anti-oxidant benefits of cinnamon and ginger.

Masala Tea (my own milder and thicker version)

Water 1 cup
Milk 2 cups
Sugar to taste
Tea leaves
3 tsp.
Black pepper 1
Cloves
1
Green cardamom powder 1/4 tsp.
Brown cardamom powder 1/4 tsp.
Ginger
Cinnamon
1/2 inch
3 sticks


Method:

Boil water and add spices and tea and cook for 3 minutes. Add milk and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Let stand for 1 minute and pour through seive into tea pot.

17 Comments:

Blogger Honey™ said...

wow il view is so CHARMING

9/08/2006 11:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Intlxpatr said...

Love the recipe. Can hardly wait to try it.

My favorite for a cold winter's day: Lapsang Soochong.

9/08/2006 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

where can i find "real" tea in kuwait?

9/08/2006 10:28:00 PM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

Honey: Tell me about it :p

intlxpatr: try the lapsang soochong with rose petals ;)

mark: your best bet is from Gourmet Corner at Shamiya Co-op. It depends on the type of tea you preffer, the best thing to get is loose leaf. You can also try first flush white tea. Very rare and only 4000 kilos are produced a year.

9/08/2006 11:13:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

ah that gourmet corner. its such a nice place but located in such a crappy super market.

9/08/2006 11:33:00 PM  
Blogger mosan mosan said...

cool post vey informative

9/09/2006 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger 1001 Nights said...

Thanks for the recipe. You might want to try Kashmiri Chai at some point if you travel. The one I am specifically talking about is the one offered in Tealuxe which has a couple of branches in Massachusetss (Boston & Cambridge). It is an amazing tea place where they have a HUGE menu just of different kinds of tea, Indian, Chinese you name it. Anyway, my dad used to call Kashmiri chai that me and my freinds were obsessing with "marag" because it has all these spices, cardamom, nutmeg, pepermint and some kind of pepper. But it's AMAZING. (BTW chai machboos is a new term for me, you didn't mean chai 7aleeb did you?)

9/09/2006 04:38:00 PM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

mosan mosan: :)

1001 Nights: I beleive Kashmiri Chai is similar to Masala Chai, but with various intensities and plus / minus some spice. As for chai machboos, yes it is chai 7aleeb, but made with milk instead of water. I just learn't the word after discovering that people had many versions of it, and since I hate the water based chai 7aleeb. Too light for me.

9/09/2006 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger 1001 Nights said...

No chai haleeb is not with water...unless some families name it differently from mine madri. But our chai haleeb we just heat up milk with cardamom and sometimes a touch of saffron and add tea leaves to it. (BTW you should try adding some ginger to it the way Omanis do, its good if you have a cough or any chest problem and adds a bit of a kick!)

9/09/2006 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

1001 Nights: Yeah thats what i thought chai 7aleeb was, but apparently there are variations that somehow became a replacement for the original recipes and over time becomes the accepted standard. I guess someone who thinks that the water based version is the original had to make up a name for the milk based. I need to investigate :p As for the ginger one, I tried it recently and like you said its good for coughs, colds etc.

9/09/2006 10:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

loooks beautiful !
i am not much of a tea person n simply detest coffee but recently i tried the rose the' at l'aduree and i was lovestruck! yummmy yummmy

9/10/2006 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

yo i went to gourmet corner but i didnt know which tea to get. i was something with good flavor is there any one you would recommend i try?

9/12/2006 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

i was something = i want something

9/12/2006 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger La Mala Educacion said...

Munnar, Cunoor, Assam, Darjeeling.... to me, they all look alike.
Coorg stands out from the rest in that you have these drop dead gorgeous Coorgi women living here, in sync with the beauty of their virgin surroundings.
If that isn't the icing on the cake, I don't know what else is.
Besides Coorg isn't too far from Bangalore and you can always check into the pristine Orange County Resort which is what - a hop, skip and jump away.

9/12/2006 09:34:00 PM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

Anonymous: Most people's idea of tea is Lipton, so no wonder many people preffer coffee over tea. The more you explore the more you will appreciate it.

Mark: Try the white tea it has a slight golden color. Its very smooth. I am not sure of the brand though. I haven't been there in a while.

Philosphy for Beggininer: Are you residing in India? You seem to be well travelled in India and thus have more knowledge and experience about the subject matter.I heard about Coorg, unfortunately I am back in Kuwait, so I would have to wait till next time.

9/13/2006 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

you might be interested in this
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/13/dining/13tea.html?ei=5088&en=9d310e8e57fc298d&ex=1315800000&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=all

9/14/2006 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

Mark: Excellent article! Now I think I'm gona go buy several kinds and have a tea weekend. Arabs are just like the English, they are absolutely fine with Lipton and Swan (Wezza).

9/14/2006 01:18:00 PM  

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