If I were born a spice I would know my worth.
Reincarnated as cinnamon, cardamom, saffron,
the beautiful star anise.
Sacred and divinely seductive.
Layers of volatile mysteries unfolding over fire.
A flower polished by time.
And then. A chai.
Drunk with spicy devotion.
Have you looked closely at a whole star anise?
Usually there are eight ‘petalled’ pods, the seeds cradled perfectly within. There is sacred geometry in all of nature and in this fragrant star of the spice world we clearly witness this beauty.
I have been known for my mysterious Full Moon Masala Chai recipe and I’m happy to divulge the secret ingredient that sets it apart from other aromatic chai’s.
Star anise. Illicium verum
Just one star simmering swimmingly in a rich deep boiling of spices brings about a hint of something. Something…not quite detectable. A little like anise, or is it licorice but pungent-sweet and exotic. Star anise melds ceremoniously with the fragrant infusion of the other miraculous spices: cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, saffron, ginger, and a pinch of turmeric.
This is a Spring-has-sprung-and-I-want-to-transform-into-a-butterfly type of chai. It is transformative. Sweet, bright, stimulating, and memorable.
In the middle of writing my blog, I got up and made myself this chai and went outside to sip it in the Springtime sun. I had been in a bit of a chrysalis state of late. In a cocoon of quiet creativity. Nurturing new ideas and wondering what type of winged creature will emerge. One of the most important questions I pondered was “Why does working with these aromatic spices, herbs, and flowers matter so much?”
The answer is in that cup of chai.
Whenever we are in a state of transition or not-knowing, or newly creating it is in the cracking open of seeds, the release of the aromatic ardor, the memory that is awakened of our connection to nature and all things divine. The sensuality we feel in our bones. It is there that we feel our wings.
So what spice are you? Is there a scent that calls to your heart, pulls at memories so rich and comforting? Or the ones that blast you open releasing your deepest desires? Spices do this. Our olfactory intelligence is ever-alert, sniffing for signs of our unfolding wings, our own rising star.
FULL MOON MASALA CHAI RECIPE
by The Spice Mistress
4 cups water
1 inch grated or sliced fresh ginger
1 small finger pinch ground saffron or 6 saffron threads
2 sticks cinnamon
12 cardamom pods
24 black peppercorns
1/4 tsp ground turmeric powder
1 whole star anise
2 TBSP loose leaf or 2 teabags Rooibos (redbush tea which has no caffeine).
Can use 1TBSP/1 teabag black tea if you prefer a deeper caffeinated chai.
Honey/stevia/maple syrup to taste.
Milk or almond milk optional (steamed is super-deluxe if you have a milk frother)
Add water to a small pot. In a mortar and pestle, lightly crack the cardamom pods, black pepper and cinnamon sticks (optional, you can throw them in the pot whole but I like to release the scent first).
Add ginger, turmeric, and saffron to put with the cracked spices and the tea of your choice (rooibos or black).
Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer for 15-20 minutes. If using black tea, add after 10 minutes and simmer with spices for 5-10 minutes.
Turn off heat.
Strain and pour into cup.
Add warmed or steamed milk/almond milk if desired.
Add honey or sweetener of your choice to taste.
The Spice Mistress used almond milk and honey but it is a delicious chai elixir just straight up as the star anise lends a special sweetness to the drink and the colour is a beautiful rich orange-red-the colour of a transformative fire!
Please share this beautiful Chai recipe and blog with those spicy friends of yours who will relish with delight such a fragrant gift. And do tell us… what spice ARE you? We would love to hear your thoughts and comments below!
With Fragrant Blessings,