Last year for Christmas, the family decided to go to Hawaii instead of buying each other expensive and unnecessary presents that got forgotten soon after the holiday season ended. While we were having Christmas at home this year, I wanted to keep with the theme of giving my family members something they would actually use, not something that would be briefly fascinating or completely random. I also love cooking for my loved ones but don’t get to spend nearly enough time doing so–and certainly won’t in the next year as I head off to Korea. To this end, I decided to make homemade gifts that could be used for weeks or even months after the holidays ended.
The trouble is, homemade food gifts are tricky, because they need to be non-perishable and actually usable by the people you are giving the gifts to. I ended up making four things: extracts, teas, hot chocolate mixes, and candied fruits. For the teas, I made two types of Chai tea from scratch and then gave them away in small glass jars tied up with ribbon and tags. Super adorable.
I am a tea person. Like, drink anywhere from 2-10 cups a day kind of tea person. So while I own a lot of tea, I don’t know why I have never tried making my own mix of tea before–especially since chai is one of my favorite kinds of tea.
This recipe calls for a number of spices, but the super cool thing is that you can kind of use what you want, and in any amounts that you want. Like your tea on the spicier side? Dump in extra peppercorns. Like your chai to be more floral? Add extra hibiscus/roses. Don’t like black tea? Use any other kind of tea you want.
Anyway, the spices get roasted and ground into a fine powder, which can then be either mixed immediately with tea or can be stored separately from the tea leaves and mixed individually with each cup of tea made.
Honestly, this recipe couldn’t be simpler. It is super quick, you probably don’t even need to go to the grocery store, and it also makes your house/apartment/kitchen smell amazing.
Masala Chai (I adapted my recipe from a great website called Whisk Affair)
¼ cup cloves
¼ cup green cardamom pods
¼ cup cinnamon sticks
¼ cup black peppercorns
2-4 T dried rose petals or hibiscus
2 T dried ginger powder
2 T fennel seeds
1 T ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix all ingredients and place on a pan. Heat spices for about 5 minutes, or until fragrant.
Remove and let cool to room temperature, than blend to a fine powder in a blender. Store the spice powder in an airtight container for up to two months. Can be mixed with tea, I recommend a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio of spices to tea, using any type of neutral tea (black, green, oolong…)
To prepare, spoon ½ teaspoon of powder + 1 teaspoon of regular tea or 1-1 ½ teaspoons of mixed spice tea in a cup of hot water and steep for a few minutes. Alternately, heat 1 cup of water and one cup of milk in a small saucepan, and once hot add 2 teaspoons of spiced tea, some vanilla extract and honey, and continue to heat through and steep to the desired amount.