chai · comfort · tea · welcome

Welcoming comforts

I’m the kind of person that enjoys hosting events for my friends and family.  My one rule is that you don’t need to bring anything but yourself.  Part of the reason is that I spend a lot of time creating a themed menu; each course is carefully planned and executed to welcome my guests into my home and express myself through food.  No meal is complete without the alluring scents of cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon mixed with black tea leaves and a dash of milk; a humble cup of tea.

There’s a simplicity implied in making tea, yet not everyone can make it well.  If you’ve ever seen the movie, The Hundred Foot Journey there’s a scene where one character explains how a chef’s skills are judged.  Basically, you can judge a chef based on the kind of omelet he/she makes.  Those words are true, however, I would argue that you can judge a person’s cooking ability based on how she makes a cup of tea.  I’m sure I’m getting a lot of eye rolls but think about it.  Many cultures honor the process in a tea ceremony.  Ingredients and tools or utensils are specifically chosen for the task.  Each step is carefully carried out in a specific way.  It is shared with your guest to honor them.

Growing up, we had a revolving door of guests from all over.  Tea was a staple that was always in the house.  It was offered to guests accompanied by samosas or an array of biscuits/cookies.  I guess something about seeing tea being made and praised as a good cup of tea stuck with me.  Although we made tea for ourselves, by breaking out the “good” tea set to serve our guests made it more special.  My young brain made the connection early on that tea had multiple purposes and I inexplicably associated tea with welcoming others to my home.

I mess around with all different kinds of teas.  It doesn’t hurt that tea is one of the few things that I crave year-round.  My current obsession is black tea with cloves and a splash of milk.  Scroll down to see a simple recipe you can make.

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I leave you with some parting thoughts.  A good cup is hard to come by.  There are countless recipes on the internet.  As the weather gets colder, we seek out our comfort foods.  No matter what they are, give tea a chance.  Snuggle up and keep warm with my ultimate welcoming comfort.

Recipe:  Naseem’s Tea with Cloves
Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients:

2-3 whole cloves (depending on your taste)
1 cup water
1 bag black tea (whichever brand you prefer)
splash of Carnation milk (optional)
sugar (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place 2-3 cloves in a small pot over medium heat.  Allow them to toast for a few minutes.
  2. Add water and bring to a boil.
  3. Add tea bag and allow to steep for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add Carnation milk and continue to boil for a few minutes.
  5. Pour into tea cup of your choice, add sugar if desired.
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