March 6, 2015

My World Trade Center Tea Recipe

Spice mix ingredients
I drink hot tea like most people drink coffee - it's my #1 comfort food. Maybe it was the snow today that made me want a cup of Urmilla's spice tea - the recipe she gave me when I helped her recover a little from the attack on the World Trade center... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Most of you can probably tell me exactly what you were doing and where you were when you first learned of the attack in New Your City. I was on the phone with a friend who said, "Oh, by the way, did you know a plane flew into the World Trade Center?" Well, no obviously I didn't or I wouldn't be on the phone! I immediately turned on the TV and that's pretty much where I spent the rest of the day. I was watching when the first tower fell - I couldn't believe that the sun was shining in my yard and the dogs were sleeping in the shade like any other day.  I had no idea that in a couple of months I would be at ground zero myself eating lunch and helping with the rescue and recovery.

Fast forward to late November 2001. A group of people from some churches in our area were called by the Red Cross for a unique mission trip. There were lots of people within a 6 to 10 block area around the Trade Center area who had a huge mess in their apartments. Many of them had not been able to return home because the insurance companies had cleaned the general area of apartment complexes but not the inside of individual apartments. We were going to do that for them.

We actually stayed in an abandoned jail in Brooklyn, were bused into the city to work and we ate every day in the facility at ground zero with the firemen and rescue workers. It was amazing! I may do another post about that trip.

As always on mission trips there are one or two people that creep into your heart in a special way. One of these for me was a young woman who lived directly across the street from the two towers with her husband and two young girls. She was from Nepal and she was very worried about moving her daughters back into the apartment that was covered with the gray dust that covered the city after the implosions. My husband, myself and a couple other people put on has-mat suits and began to clean that dust out of there. It took nearly a week and Urmilla and I became good friends. She even showed up to visit a few times in other apartments we were cleaning after we had finished hers. The day before we were to return to Tennessee, she invited my husband and I to have tea with she and her husband. Her husband had not been able to even look at the wreckage across the street until we took him up on the roof of their building and helped him to look for the first time - two months after it had happened! It was very emotional for us all. 

The tea that Urmilla made was wonderful and I bought all the ingredients when I got home and I make it often. She made tea the way true tea drinkers do it - boil water in a pan, toss in the loose tea and in this recipe , spices. below is what to do - I think if you will try it, you will love it too!

I use loose black tea, and I keep the spice mix in a glass jar and add about a teaspoonful per cup of tea.
 Spice mix: (Urmilla had a wonderful Mortar and pistol but my little one works OK. I sometimes use my spice grinder (pictures below)
Even amounts of Whole cloves, fresh ground Allspice, Cinnamon bark, Betel nut (broken up into small pieces) - yes, I know it turns your teeth black (only if you chew it for most of your life) and some folks think it's poison, but in the tiny amounts it is here is not harmful and it is the main thing that gives this tea it's unusual flavor. I found it at an International Market in Nashville but  you can find it on Amazon. Leave the cloves and cinnamon sticks whole.

favorite tea cup

Since I'm usually making one cup at a time, I use my little "Froggy" tea
strainer/brewer in my favorite cup. He floats on top of the water! When done, he fits in the clear little cup to drain.

I brew the tea and spices together, strain and enjoy!

Ground spice mix

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