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Caution! it’s Cabin Fever Season

by Jan Christensen

The days are getting longer, but it’s too early to think about spring. It’s still dark before you get home from work. You’re starting to resent getting up before the sun. It’s SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) time. We’re deprived of the light. Grumpy and restless. No energy or inclination to exercise. Cruising the refrigerator for comfort food. Want to take a break from it all, but can’t afford a trip to the islands like your landlord takes? Try a cup of Gotu kola chai. Some say it’s important not to drink more than one cup at a time, and report “jitteryness” if too much is consumed. It’s a good beginning for an active winter’s day, sending you sailing on your way warm and serene. This recipe makes enough chai to share with a friend or save a cup for later. Store in the refrigerator. It’s delicious chilled. NOTES: Lipton Red Label Tea is available at Indian grocery stores, but I haven’t found a good source in Milwaukee, so I tend to stock up when I’m in Madison. If anyone knows of a local source for this, please let me know! Gotu kola and Cardamom are both available in bulk from Outpost Natural Foods. Black Tea adds caffeine to the chai. You can use a decaf tea if you prefer. This chai seems best when made with whole milk or goat’s milk, which has even more fat content than cow’s milk. The rule of thumb seems to be the more butterfat the better. I haven’t found a truly satisfying vegan version of this recipe, but am experimenting with brewing the tea mixture, then adding almond milk to the warm tea. I’ve found that both soy milk and rice milk tend to separate. Suggestions are welcome! The Ritual Making Gotu kola chai is a ritual, so clean up the kitchen, assemble your tools and ingredients, and clear your calendar for an hour or so. This will take some time and concentration, but the results are well worth it. What You Will Need Tools: Mortar and pestle, if available 2-quart stainless steel saucepan Measuring cup, or pint jar Wooden spoon Tea strainer Container to strain tea into Ingredients: 1 pint (2 cups) water 1 pint whole milk (or fresh goat’s milk) 1 heaping Tablespoon Cardamom pods 2 heaping Tablespoons Gotu kola herb 2 level Tablespoons Lipton Red Label Tea (or loose black tea of your choice) 3 Tablespoons brown sugar (more or less to taste) Procedure: Break up the Cardamom pods with the mortar and pestle. Crush the little brown seeds well. This will release a delicious aroma. Measure out the Gotu kola herb and Red Label tea. Add to the pleasure of your ritual by putting them in separate, special little containers–choose something beautiful. Measure the milk and water into the saucepan. Sprinkle the Cardamom and Gotu kola on top of the milk, and stir in well. Heat the mixture without stirring. After a minute or two, the mixture will begin to foam up. Immediately reduce the heat–remove from the burner if necessary — to prevent it foaming over the top of the pan. Sprinkle the tea on the top of the foam, and stir with the wooden spoon. Keep the heat high enough to maintain the foaming “head” on the mixture. Stir constantly for five minutes (exactly — use a clock or a timer). There is controversy about whether to stir clockwise, counterclockwise or in an infinity sign. You decide. After exactly five minutes of stirring, remove the chai from the heat. Pour through the tea strainer into the container. Stir in the brown sugar. Pour into a very special cup or glass. Put on some very special music. Sip. Find inner peace. Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 1 – January 2002
by Jan Christensen