One of our Summer Love-To-Do List projects was to”Invent a Popsicle.” Since one of Bea’s favorite drinks at the local Gerrard India Bazaar is the hot, pink Kashmiri Chai Tea, speckled with bits of pistachio and almonds, I thought I’d try to provide her with a frozen, summer version! In order to make a popsicle out of this tea, though, I first had to figure out how to make the tea itself. So, I headed a few blocks west for some answers. Outside of a grocery store, a neighbour, in the midst of keeping tabs on her three small children, very kindly told me how she makes hers at home. [Thanks, Mala!] Then, I sourced the ingredients at a local spice haven, Kohinoor Foods. [Don’t worry, you can get what you need at a regular grocery store or online.]
This pink Kashmiri Chai tea takes a bit more time than your average brew, but it’s mostly hands-free simmering time! To start the base, you simmer tea leaves with spices, baking soda, salt, and water for about half an hour until a good portion of the water boils away and what’s left becomes a rich red-brown. Then, you add some additional water and boil again to complete the tea base. From there, you can add milk, a wee bit of salt [the traditional take] or sugar [the kid-friendly take] to taste, reheat, and serve the tea sprinkled with nuts. [I made myself a hot cup and then had some over ice later in the day.] To make the popsicles, you can simply freeze the nut-studded tea in popsicle molds! Alternatively, you can cool the milk-free tea base slightly and then mix it with Greek yogurt, nuts, and sweetener or with softened vanilla ice cream and nuts. Then, simply refreeze the mixture in popsicle molds or in paper cups with sticks. If you’re really industrious, you can even mix the base with vanilla ice cream and nuts and freeze it in a bread pan to make a celebratory Kashmiri Chai Tea Slice-Cream Cake!
Pink Kashmiri Chai Tea
- 4 c water
- 2 tbs [heaping] loose Kashmiri Chai tea leaves or good green tea leaves [the latter may not turn pink but you can cheat by using red food colour drops or pink gel colour to achieve the result]
- 8-10 green cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick or 4-6 large bits flat cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise [optional - we did not use it]
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1.5 c additional cold water
- chopped pistachios and/or chopped almond slivers
For tea and basic popsicles
- 4 tbs sugar [or a dash salt]
- 4 c milk simmered for 10 mins and set aside to cool
- a few tbs coffee cream [optional]
For greek yogurt popsicles
- 4 tbs sugar or honey
- 4 c [max] greek yogurt
For ice cream pops or slice-cream cake
- 4-6 c Vanilla Ice Cream softened
MAKE THE TEA BASE!
- In a stainless steel pot, combine 2 c water, tea leaves, baking soda, salt, dry whole spices.
- Whisk and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Turn heat down to a low simmer and stir occasionally for 35-40 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced and reddened significantly.
- Add the additional 1 c of water and return to medium-high heat,
- Bring back to a boil and stir for 10 minutes.
- Strain tea base through a sieve, discarding the tea leaves and spices.
- [If, because of your choice of tea, you've not achieved a pinky brown tea base, cheat by adding drops of red food colour or pink icing gel to suit.]
MAKE THE HOT TEA, ICED TEA, OR BASIC POPSICLES
- Return strained tea base to clean/rinsed stainless steel pot over medium-high heat.
- Add sugar [or a dash more salt] and whisk to incorporate.
- Add milk and bring to a boil, whisking well.
- Immediately reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- For Hot Tea: Ladle tea into mugs, add 1-3 tsp cream [optional], and top with pistachios and/or almonds as desired.
- For Iced Tea: Cool tea and ladle into cups of ice. Top with pistachios and/or almonds as desired.
- For Popsicles: Use a ladle and funnel to fill popsicle molds almost to the brim. Top with pistachios and/or almonds as desired. Freeze for several hours.
MAKE THE GREEK YOGURT POPSICLES
- While the strained tea base is still warm, add sugar or honey and whisk until dissolved.
- Cool sweetened base to room temperature.
- To 2-4 c greek yogurt, add strained tea base by the small ladle-full or .5 cup [no need to use all of the base] until you have achieved the colour and creaminess you desire.
- Fill popsicle molds or, if you like yours pops quite thick, paper cups with popsicle sticks, and freeze for several hours.
MAKE THE ICE CREAM POPS OR SLICE-CREAM CAKE
- Cool strained, unsweetened base to room temperature.
- To 2-6 c vanilla ice cream, stir in strained tea base by the small ladle-full or .5 cup [no need to use all of the base] until you have achieved the colour and creaminess you desire.
- Stir in pistachio and/or almond bits as desired.
- For Pops: Fill paper cups with the mixture, insert popsicle sticks, and freeze for several hours. Tear off cups and enjoy! [Get fancy by first spooning a tsp of nuts into each cup and/or by adding nuts on the filled cups.]
- For Slice-Cream: If desired, spoon a nice layer of pistachio and/or almond pieces into the bottom of a plastic-lined, parchment-lined, or silicone 8x4 [or equivalent] bread pan. Fill the pan with softened ice cream mixture. If desired, spoon a nice layer of pistachio and/or almond pieces over the filled pan of ice cream. Cover, and freeze for several hours. Remove slice-cream to a plate, let sit to soften slightly if necessary, slice, and serve.