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I woke up with a pretty bad sore throat this morning, so out came the elderberry syrup and honey and apple cider vinegar and ginger.  I drank a spoonful of the syrup and mixed a spoon of honey with a spoon of the vinegar and drank it with a little tea.  And then I cut up the ginger into tiny pieces, and put it in a pot of water to make ginger tea. (According to traditional Chinese medicine, ginger is one of the best remedies for colds and congestion.)   And then I decided to throw in my last stick of cinnamon and a dozen or so peppercorns to make chai tea.

And as I’ve been drinking it this morning I decided to re-post the recipe for this, in case anyone else is a little under the weather, or just feeling cold.  Because, at least in upstate New York, this is the time of year when you just start getting tired of being bone cold all the time, and you know that there’s still a long time of coldness ahead, and you realize that you need to cling to the little graces of winter, mugs of soup and hot tea and the warmth of your best friend next to you at night.

Chai Tea

4 c. (about 1 liter) water

2-4 inches of fresh ginger, unpeeled* (exact amount not necessary)

7-10 whole cloves*

10 black peppercorns*

2 sticks of cinnamon*

10 green cardamom pods* (Optional. I’ve never actually made this with cardamom because it’s so expensive, but it is traditionally one of the dominant spices in masala chai)

1/4 t. loose black tea

milk of some kind, just not skim

sweetener of some kind (optional– 5 or 6 drops of liquid stevia work nicely with this)

* You can use powdered spices if you want, though the fresher they are, the better. (Also, if you are going to buy any of these spices, please, please check a natural grocery store’s bulk section first. You can save a ton of money buying any of these in bulk rather than the tiny, overpriced containers in the grocery store. When you buy in bulk, the price per pound is dramatically less, and you can buy smaller quantities of spices that you aren’t going to use much of.)

Bring water to a low boil and add ginger, cloves, peppercorns, and cinnamon. Boil for about 15 minutes (longer for a stronger chai) and then add a pinch of black tea. Continue boiling for a minute or two more. Strain the liquid and discard the spices. While the mixture is still warm, you can add a sweetener if you want. Add just a little at a time.

Serve hot with a splash of milk or refrigerate and serve cold with milk. (Milk helps the tea to be more easily digested.)

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