Each year as winter approaches and the nights get chilly, I start craving masala tea to warm me up. I learned to make it in Afura’s house in Zanzibar, doing a cooking course in the packed earth courtyard of her home, over a charcoal brazier.
The refreshing taste of hot Masala tea in a hot climate.
Masala tea in Zanzibar is similar to spicy chai teas worldwide, with a few differences. It is drunk both hot and cold, and is always drunk black, no milk. Even cold, the taste of spices creates heat in the mouth and a lingering aftertaste. It’s become a winter staple for me, and is very easy to make.
Start with a litre of boiling water in a saucepan on the stove top and add:
- half a cup of lemongrass chopped into rough lengths of 2-3 inches,
- half a cup of roughly chopped fresh ginger,
- 3 cinnamon sticks, and
- half a tablespoon each of crushed cardamon seeds and cloves from the mortar and pestle.
Let the pot boil for 10 – 20 minutes and then add a quarter cup (or 2-3 teabags) of black tea leaves on top of the boiling water. Boil for another 2 minutes maximum (the tea leaves can quickly taste bitter if boiled longer ) then take off the heat and pour through a fine strainer. The tea is now ready to drink, add sugar or honey to taste. I love how the cloves give it a nice peppery, slightly numb aftertaste.
Have you discovered a new favourite tea in your travels?