It’s finally feeling and looking a little like fall around here.  It will probably only last a few days so I am lapping up the cool weather and enjoying the few colorful trees that popped-up this week.

I have another big batch of apple butter bubbling away and chocolate bark setting up (more on that soon!), but still found some time for some rest and relaxation on this beautiful Monday. I made a little change to my mid-morning coffee break and enjoyed a spicy cup of chai tea.

Chai is a tricky tea and I have been at a loss for how to capture it’s exotic essence outside of the coffee shop.  When I have tried brewing chai tea from the bag the result was a disappointing, watered-down version of my favorite tea.

I thought my chai indulgence would just have to be isolated to the occasional coffee shop run, until I found this recipe.  A perfect blend of unique spices freshly ground in a mortar and pestle, steeped in milk, and quickly brewed with loose leaf tea was just what I needed on my morning break.

No more chasing after this elusive creamy, sweet, and spicy tea!  Now you can enjoy it at home in just a few minutes.  Relax and enjoy a cup.

Masala Chai (Spiced Milk Tea)

Makes 4 drinks

From the Gourmet Today cookbook

10 green cardamom pods, cracked, seeds removed, and pods discarded

1 (1 1/2-inch) piece of cinnamon stick

4 whole peppercorns

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 cups milk

3 1/2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 cups water

5 teaspoons loose orange pekoe tea or other black tea

Grind together cardamom, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and fennel seeds with mortar and pestle or coffee grinder.

Bring milk just to a simmer in a 2-quart heavy saucepan.  Stir or whisk in brown sugar, salt, ground spice mixture, and ginger.  Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes to infuse flavors.

Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan, add tea, and boil 1 minute.

Pour tea through a fine-mesh sieve into hot milk mixture (discard tea leaves) and cook, still over low heat, for 1 minute.  Stir before serving.