Sunday, April 07, 2013

Honey...Tea... and Me!

I don't suppose it's common knowledge that I love honey, and that I eat honey in one form or another every day, although some of the honey that I consume is in one of my favorite beverages, that being a cup of Chai tea prepared as it has for the past 1000 years in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Amongst my family and friends, it is common knowledge that I am passionate about tea, and I am up for a cup of tea at most any time of the day.
 However, having said that, there is one time of day that I stray from my normal cup of tea drunk straight up, and that would be when I enjoy a cup of my favorite tea, a cup of Chai.  Mind you not just any old cup of Chai, but I prefer my Chai prepared somewhat differently than in my normal way of consuming tea without adding sweeteners or milk.
When I prepare a cup of Chai, I begin by bringing the water to almost a rolling boil, and meanwhile I have preheated my cast-iron teapot, and added several teaspoons of my favorite blend of loose leaf  black Chai, that includes a blend of cinnamon, black pepper, clove, chili pepper, ginger, star anise,  and cardamom.

 Drink a cup of this Chai, and the aromatic spices will carry you away to the exotic places that are known for their Chai teas. In India "Chai" simply means tea, but in our part of the world, it refers specifically to spiced Indian-style tea.

But lets get back to the Chai that I am preparing.  While the water is being heated, I also am gently heating vanilla soymilk in a sauce pan on the stove.
Once the water in my kettle just about reaches a rolling boil, I pour the water over the Chai tea leaves that I have placed in the infusion basket of my cast-iron teapot. After allowing the tea to steep for 5 minutes, I remove the infusion basket carrying the Chai tea leaves. At this point, I add the warmed soymilk to the tea in my castiron teapot, and give it a good stir. Now, we get back to what I first mentioned...that being the honey, as I prefer to drink my Chai with milk and honey. However... I add the honey to the cup, and not just any old honey, as I prefer honey that comes from alfalfa flowers. Now having said that I prefer alfalfa honey, I will settle for clover honey, as it tends to be easier to find in southern Alberta.  If I am preparing the Chai for more than myself, then everyone's teacup receives a teaspoon of honey, or even two teaspoons if you like it Indian very sweet!   I then pour the tea into each cup over the honey, and then all that's left is to sit back and enjoy!

I started out mentioning honey, and I have always been passionate about honey. Over time, I have discovered some interesting facts about honey. For instance, do you know that all honey's are not created equal..... For example, where I grew up in southern Saskatchewan, alfalfa is grown as a feed crop for livestock.  The alfalfa flower is a favorite of the honey bee, and became a favorite of mine from the time I lived there as a kid and enjoyed the honey gathered by the honey-bees of local bee keepers. It took me many years to really appreciate how good alfalfa honey from that part of Saskatchewan really was. Alfalfa honey can vary from clear to light amber in color, and I find that it has a pleasant minty flavor. Also, alfalfa honey tends to be heavier than most other honeys, and you can see this, when comparing it to other honeys that come from different flowers
 Some years back,  I moved beyond the honey sold at my local supermarket, when I began to purchase honey from the various small bee-keepers that I would find as I backroaded around southern Alberta.

These days I find myself enjoying clover honey, although I believe that the clover honey that I purchase, is made up of honey that is made by the bees that visit both clover and alfalfa plants growing wild in the foothills of southern Alberta.  Honey from bees that eat exclusively clover is pale amber to almost white in color, with a grassy floral scent and a subtle flavor, but certainly will vary in color and taste depending on its purity
 .Just so you know, 80 percent of the honey that you find in a grocery store near you, is gathered by honey bees from Canola, which is grown across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Canola honey is a light-colored, and mild-flavored honey. Still whats not to like, as when Canola fields are in bloom, they are breathtaking.

No comments yet