In India and Pakistan there are so many variations for masala tea. Typically a selection of spices like ginger, cinnamon, cardamoms, black pepper and cloves are simmered in water to extract the flavours and then black tea is added to the spiced water and brewed. I've seen this tea prepared in a pan along with lots of milk and sugar, which is usually added to temper the taste of the spices until it is just right. In my family cardamoms and cinnamon sticks were the preferred additions along with milk and sugar.
I've noticed that in the West, chai tea, which is essentially spiced tea and chai lattes are becoming increasingly popular in cafés. You can even buy ready-made mixes to make chai tea at home.
This is great to see but I'm going to take masala tea back to a where it is a health promoting drink so yes I am going to basically drop the milk and sugar and will adapt this tea to enhance its inherent medicinal and therapeutic properties.
I'm going to be using cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, ginger and cardamoms. All these spices are energizing, warming, boost circulation and act as digestive aids. This mix of spices also helps support blood sugar and cholesterol management. Cloves, ginger and black pepper also have analgesic properties and could be helpful to support pain relief.
In my opinion, the real beauty, is that this tea may be tailored with specific spices to support the body. For example fennel seeds may be included to promote digestion and help reduce bloating and gas in the digestive system. Even turmeric could be included to support detoxification, inflammation, blood sugar and so on.
Traditionally, masala tea is made up with black tea, which is rich in polyphenols and antioxidants but it could be replaced with green, oolong and even caffeine free rooibos (redbush) tea. In this recipe I'm using rooibos as a caffeine-free version. So here's my suggestion for a masala-based tea. I'm using small amounts of spices which I am freshly ground to maximise their potency.
Caffeine Free Masala Tea
1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
4-5 black pepper corns
3-4 green cardamom pods
1/4-1/2 inch piece of ginger (grated or sliced)
1 tsp rooibos
- Crush all the dry spices together in a mortar & pestle or lightly grind in a coffee grinder.
- Chop or grate ginger. If you want less heat then add less ginger or add some dried ginger if you prefer.
- In a pan, add the crushed spices along with the grated or chopped ginger and cover with 2 cups of water.
- Bring the spices to the boil and then let the spice mix simmer for around 5 minutes.
- Switch off the heat and then add the redbush tea (1/2 to 1 tsp) and let the tea brew for around 3 minutes.
- Strain the spiced tea into a cup.
If you really need to sweeten then add a little honey, maple or date syrup or add some fresh lemon. Remember that you can add and remove spices according to your taste and what you wish to achieve. Similarly try replacing the redbush with black, oolong or green tea or drink it without the addition of tea.
Happy Masala tea making