It’s the first day of fall, the leaves are slowly revealing the auburns and vermillion hidden under their summer green. The days have some lingering summer warmth and the nights are cool and crisp. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. These transitional months are well suited towards morning enhanced by wrapping one’s hands around a mug filled with a delicious warm beverage while waiting for the sun to warm the air. This variation of my family’s chai recipe is perfectly suited to this time of year. Our traditional, warming chai is enhanced with spicy ginger and bright and refreshing mint and lemongrass. It’s a wonderful spin on an already delicious treat.
Did you know that both lemongrass and mint are very easy to grow at home? I do not have anything close to a green thumb, but these two herbs have been failsafe for me. If you find lemongrass at your local market that still has the root end intact, just plot that end into a glass of water and stick the glass near a sunny window. Change the water every few days, and within a week or so, small rootlets should emerge. Once that happens, place in a pot with rich potting soil, and put somewhere sunny and warm. Mint grows like a weed. You can simply get a solitary starter plan that looks healthy and place it in a large pot with potting soil and within a week or two it should take over the entire pot.
This chai is made in basically the same way as the original chai, just adding in the extra seasoning to add more flavor. If you have lemongrass at home, use the tender, bright green tips for a delicate and balanced flavor. If you can only find the root end, just use a few thin slices per serving of chai. Feel free to play with different mint varieties to see which you like best. My personal favorite is spearmint as the aggressive pepperiness works beautifully with the spices in the chai. I also like to add more masala (spice mix) than usual, as sometimes the ginger, mint, and lemongrass can mask the complexity of the masala. I hope you love this chai variation at this lovely time of year. It is a perfect drink for now or, really, any time of year!
Chai with Ginger, Lemongrass, and Mint
|Cook:||Yield: 1 eight ounce mug|
A delicious version of my family's traditional, warming chai enhanced with spicy ginger and bright lemongrass and mint.
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tsp sugar or sweetener of choice, or to taste
- 1 heaping teaspoon tea leaves
- 1/2 tsp chai masala
- 3 thin (1-2 mm) slices of ginger root
- 5 mint leaves, gently bruised
- 4-5 inches of bright green end of lemongrass cut into 1 inch pieces, or 3 thin slices of root end of lemongrass
- Combine all of the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, and stir down, once it boils. Be sure to carefully watch the pot, as it will boil over very easily. Return to a boil one more time. Turn off the heat, allow to steep for 3-5 minutes. Strain and serve.