Have you met our new loose Really, Really Big Chai yet? Open a canister of this loose black tea and spices, you'll know exactly why we gave it such a literal name. First, a big, glorious scent will hit your nose instantly, and second, when you peer inside, you'll be dazzled by big chunks of various spices, including whole clove buds, chunks of star anise, cardamom pods, dried ginger, orange chunks with peel, Brazil pepper and of course, whole black tea leaves. In short, this tea is a looker.
The smell made us of think of all sorts of things like spice-cookies in the oven and cinnamon candy we haven't had for years, and then we realized that the components of Really, Really Big Chai are just like the ingredients found in packets of mulling spices. You know mulling spices, right? They're what can turn a cheap, overly fruity red wine into a delightful drink that'll warm you from the inside out. Or perhaps you know this drink by another name, as it's made in various incarnations all over the world, like glögg in Sweden, glühwein in Germany and Austria, or vino navega'o in Chile.
Since I already have quite the reputation at Two Leaves and a Bud for turning our teas into cocktails of all sorts (Paisley Tartinis, anyone? Or a Minted Green Tea Cocktail?), we decided it would be fitting for me to try to mull some wine with our Really, Really Big Chai, and that's how my house started smelling like après ski at a cozy alpine lodge at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday.
Even better — It's delicious, it's easy, and here's my recipe, below:
- 2 heaping tablespoons of Really, Really Big Chai
- 1 750ml bottle of red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon, but any cheap, fruity red wine will work because you're going to mull the nuances right out of it)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 oranges
- In a small pan on the stove, lightly toast the Really, Really Big Chai to enhance the flavors. Feel free to be picky about which chunks you're including in your mix -- more cardamom and less anise, for example.
- Dump a bottle of red wine into a pot, and add the toasted Really, Really Big Chai. Bring the mixture to a boil briefly and then lower the heat to barely a simmer.
- Mix 1/4 cup of brown sugar and one sliced orange (peel and all) into the mix at this point.
- Let the brew steep over low heat for an hour or so, and then taste and add more sugar or fruit if you like.
- Serve to your friends in mugs, garnish with orange zest from the second orange.