I know I’ve been ranting about chocolate lately, which is inevitable in light of the recent holiday. And I rant because I love it, even though I rarely eat any—you know, always on a diet. I’m so angry about constantly dieting that I could “chew nails and spit rust,” to quote my late mother (always one for the pithy cliché). Then you hear about the health benefits of chocolate. Unfortunately, this only applies to tiny amounts of dark chocolate consumed daily. Another time you’ll hear about how healthy tea is, but that usually only applies to green tea. I bought some green tea from Costco a long time ago and it was awful. In other words, health benefits are usually only found in things that taste fairly bad.
Don’t freak out—bad is my own humble opinion; I’m sure plenty of people love dark chocolate and green tea, but I’ve never been one to appreciate bitter tastes much.
I’ve been suffering from a strange sort of sore throat that comes and goes, then I have a dry cough, then nasal congestion. I’ve thought it was a cold, but now I believe it’s just the annoying prelude to spring and the emergence of pollen, seeds, dust, or whatever else is blowing around out there. I don’t feel sick. But, then you always have to wonder what exactly is going on in the atmosphere in general—can any of us ever really say we are healthy with all of the toxins in the air, or in our foods?
As I look out at all the dried-up leftovers from last year’s foliage, sometimes I can’t help but dream of apartment living, or living in some sort of condominium environment, where someone else cleans up your yard. Parts of America are suffering from massive snowstorms, while here in Albuquerque, it was 70° a few days ago. Inevitably, some Burqueños start roaming around wearing tank tops, shorts, and flip-flops. The wisteria always start to bloom early. And then—wham!—bitter cold around April Fool’s Day and frozen blossoms. So I guess it’s time to make peace with the fact that my house really owns me—it’s time to start clearing out the detritus in the yard and also time to shake off the mental detritus, as well.
Or, I can just stay in and make up some of this tea, with a nod to my favorite captain, Jean-Luc Picard. He probably never sweetened his own Earl Grey, but I must…
Healing Chocolate Chai
- 20 whole peppercorns
- 4 cardamom pods
- 8 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken into 3 pieces
- 1″ piece of fresh ginger, washed, unpeeled, cut into ¼” slices
- 3 cups water
- 3 regular-sized bags of Earl Grey tea
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3-4 tablespoons sugar, or more to taste
- 1 cup 1% milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Use a 4-cup glass measure for this recipe. In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the first six ingredients. Bring to a boil, then simmer over a medium heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the tea bags, cover, and let it steep for 5 minutes. Put a small, fine-mesh strainer over the 4-cup glass measure. Pour the liquid into this and squeeze out the liquid from the tea bags. Discard all solids. You’ll have about 2½ -2¾ cups left; set aside. In the saucepan, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, and milk over medium heat until the cocoa and sugar dissolve. Pour the tea mixture back into the saucepan and add the vanilla. Stir over low heat for about 2 minutes. Carefully pour into 2-3 mugs, or pour this back into the glass measure so you can pour it more carefully. Serves 2-3, depending on how unhealthy you might be feeling…