Adapted from a recipe from Tejal Rao in the New York Times, with my grandmother's influence, specifically in the inclusion of condensed milk —at boarding school she would sip on cans of the stuff in secret. It gives the tea a soothing weight.
The tea’s milk and water base is sweet but not candied. It is buzzy with ginger, warmed by cinnamon and a miserly dispensation of pepper, and rounded out with soothing cardamom. Turmeric dyes everything day-glo golden, and adds an earthy astringency, while the black tea provides fragrance and structure.
The recipe yields a provocatively strong concentrate in a biggish batch. Reheat servings as needed, then top with heated milk, frothed or not.
FOR THE CONCENTRATE
1 cup | 240 ml water
1/4 cup | 60 ml sweetened condensed milk
A 2-inch piece of ginger, see note
6 to 8 green cardamom pods, split
2 cinnamon sticks, each broken in half
4 black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric, or a 1 1/2-inch piece fresh, peeled and grated
2 cups | 480 ml milk of choice
1 to 2 teaspoons ghee or coconut oil, optional
0.5 oz | 15 g black tea or 4 black tea bags
FOR EACH DRINK
1/3 to 1/2 cup | 80 to 120 ml milk of choice, steamed and frothed
Ground pistachios for dusting
In a heavy saucepan, stir together the water, condensed milk, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, an turmeric. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Lower the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour the milk into the syrup, and spoon in the ghee. Bring to a boil again, and then knock back the heat to a simmer for another 3 minutes. Pop in the tea, and let bubble for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea. Strain the concentrate through a fine meshed sieve—I find it neatest to do so into a wide jug or large liquid measuring cup with a pouring spout—and press on the solids in the basket to extract as much liquid as possible. If using the concentrate later, decant it to a jar for storage. Refrigerate until needed.
For each drink, pour one quarter hot concentrate into each cup. Top with the steaming, frothed milk, and the ground pistachios. Serve immediately.
I use almond milk for the concentrate, and then cow's milk for finishing as I'm terribly bad at establishing a foam on the former (though I've not yet those blends aimed at stretching). I realize that makes three milks in one recipe, so use what you like. If you want to omit the condensed milk, use 1/4 cup cane sugar in its place, adding the sugar with the water to start, or honey or maple syrup instead.
If making the concentrate in advance, skip the ghee as it will separate from the brew when chilled. Stir it into the reheated concentrate right before serving.
Grating the ginger will produce a much more assertive cuppa. To tone it down, slice or chop the root instead.