Navigating, As You Do

chai tea
Remember when you started middle school and didn’t really know what to expect or what kind of shoes the other kids would wear or how the heck to open a damn locker? But within a matter of days you kind of slyly studied the older kids out of the corner of your eye and put together the pieces pretty quickly? Well the thing about a long-distance relationship is there aren’t really any older kids to study closely and teach you exactly how it all goes down. I guess I should  back up and say that I have a few wonderful friends (and so many of you who commented on the last post!), that have offered great advice and shining examples, but ultimately I think on this one — there’s much you must discover on your own. You have to account for two sets of schedules, different needs, and worries and joys. But you navigate, as you must. As you do.

For us, there have been some unexpected ways of doing this. Last week Sam asked me out on a date. Yep, he from Seattle and me down here in Oakland — we both had a lot of work to get done so we had a work date. I was writing about food, he was designing a website and we checked in on each other throughout the night, knowing that we’d talk at the end of it.  And a few days ago, I was feeling a little restless with the day and Sam asked if I wanted to go on a walk with him. So he laced up his Seattle shoes, I laced up my Oakland shoes and off we went. On my walk, I saw a neighbor’s orange tree, lingering cherry blossoms, one outdoor wedding,  two runners, one chubby squirrel, an impromptu soccer game and a curb-side barbecue. And I thought of Sam the entire time. And then there’s going to sleep at night. We plan our evenings so we’re getting into bed at the same time. There’s something comforting about it — reassuring and important in its own small way. With these things, the distance shrinks. Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t say it collapses. But it shrinks. And for now, that’s what we’ve got.

chai tea spices
The thing about planning your evenings in this way is that there are some late nights. Sometimes, there’s just a lot to say and that can easily stretch into the wee morning hours.  Or sometimes there’s not a lot to say and it still manages to stretch into the wee morning hours. I’ve pretty much stopped drinking too much wine after dinner and bourbon’s out completely or I’d be asleep by 8 p.m. So instead,I’ve been making homemade chai. It has just enough caffeine, is warmly spiced and a tiny bit smoky. I’ve come to look forward to it.

I started making this chai after visiting Samovar Tea Lounge a little while back, a wonderful tea shop and cafe located on a quiet, leafy San Francisco street across from the Zen Center. I met up with my friend Anne who writes a beautiful blog, just wrote a book (!), and has recently gotten engaged to her love, Sean. We sat over two cups of chai tea in the early afternoon and talked about the city, writing, and love. After leaving, I set about to try and duplicate Samovar’s version on my own. For nights with Sam. For late mornings after the coffee pot has been put to rest. For any old time.

Now I know it may seem like a pain to go out and buy spices that you don’t have on hand just to make tea that you could buy ready-made. But for me, there’s something about mixing up all the different spices and taking the time to brew the tea the old-fashioned way. Sure, it could be quicker; it could be easier. As could many of the really good, special, important things in life. But those are sometimes the things that are worth just standing and waiting a while, stirring, tending, steeping, brewing. As it often goes with friends, with tea, with love.

Homemade Spiced Chai

Homemade Spiced Chai

  • Yield: 1 chai
  • Cook time: 5 mins
  • Inactive time: 3 mins
  • Total time: 8 mins

This recipe yields one cup of well-balanced, warmly-spiced Chai tea. Once you make it a few times, play around with the proportions until you get it just the way you really like it.

Ingredients

3/4 cup water plus 1/4 cup milk (more or less--play around with the quantities best suited for your cup and your tastes here)
2 teaspoons loose black tea leaves (Assam or Ceylon tea is your best bet here)
3 green cardamom pods
3 whole black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 thin slices fresh ginger (can leave skin on)
3 whole cloves
Sugar, honey, or agave to taste

Instructions

Pour water and milk into a small saucepan, and begin to heat on the stove-top over medium heat. Before the mixture comes to a boil, add the fresh ginger and remaining spices.  When the spice mixture boils, add the loose-leaf black tea. Turn off the heat and let steep for 2-3 minutes. Pour through a sieve to strain out tea leaves and spices. Add the sweetener of your choosing, and pour into your favorite mug.

Comments

  1. Anna

    Sounds so good! When I visited my sister she took me to Samovar, it was lovely and I am excited to be able to make a great chai at home. I hope your navigation continues to go well!

  2. Katie

    Your long distance dates sound sweet, as does Sam. I've never been a tea drinker, but this homemade chai is intriguing...

  3. Chez Us

    Lovely post as always. :)

    I have been meaning to share a Chai Tea Latte recipe, that one of my sweetest friends, Sheena, taught me how to make many moons ago. Just have not gotten around to it. I do love Chai!

    Love to catch up soon (someday) :)

  4. Anne Zimmerman

    Can't wait for more chai with you soon... Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  5. tracy

    will you please make me some?! xo

  6. El

    Glad all is well. The tea looks great.

  7. Kimberley

    I love these shared rituals. And this makes me want to make a big pot of chai.

  8. Dana

    Oh the yearning! It has been many many years since I had a long distance love, but I remember the pining and longing like it was yesterday. I am sorry that you are not closer but it is so lovely that you have created some closeness in the distance.

    1. megang

      Thanks, Dana! We're working it out. I think you'll be seeing much more of me in the near future (I'll keep you posted). xo.

  9. Mary

    Gorgeous post, Megan. Smile, just thinking of you and Sam.

  10. Kasey

    It's so sweet to read about how you guys go on dates despite the fact that you're not in the same city. I so enjoy these little glimpses into your blooming relationship :) And this chai, um, can I come over for tea sometime? ;)

  11. Adriana

    yeah! I'm gonna start making Chai for me and my new roomie. She drinks WAY too much of the packaged stuff with tons of sugar and no flavor. Thanks for the recipe. I think the idea of you guys going to bed at the same time is super cute!

  12. Alice

    The chai looks so good. Re: your previous post - sometimes the unexpected relationship is THE relationship. In my case, the rebound relationship became the first and last true love. I wish you and Sam the best!

  13. Denise | Chez Danisse

    It's seems you are adjusting to long-distance romance quite well. I love homemade masala chai. I use similar ingredients, but prepare it a little differently. It turns out looking much like yours. Yum.

  14. Kitty

    I circumnavigate from AU to NYC.

Join the Discussion

Summer Desserts

Whole Grain Any-Fruit Crisp

Whole Grain Any-Fruit Crisp

On Monday our little family of three is headed to the airport at 6 am to board our first with-baby cross-country trip. We'll be visiting Sam's family in New Jersey for a few days, then renting a car and driving over to meet up with my family at my mom's lake house in the Adirondacks. Sam's younger sister and her kids have yet to meet Oliver; my grandpa has yet to meet him, and Oliver has yet to take a dunk in a lake, see a firefly, or spend quality time with energetic dogs -- of which there will be three. A lot of firsts. This week my family has been madly texting, volunteering to make certain meals or sweets on assigned days while we're at the cabin and it got me thinking about really simple, effortless summer desserts -- in particular, ones that you can make while staying in a house with an unfamiliar kitchen and unfamiliar equipment and still do a pretty bang-up job. I think fruit crisp is just that thing. 

Read More
Thick and Creamy Cherry Almond Ice Cream

Thick and Creamy Cherry Almond Ice Cream

This past week we've had quite a heat wave in Seattle. I've been getting into the bakery early in the mornings so as to avoid the afternoon heat + hot oven combination, and it turns out the upstairs of our new house is quite a little hot box. I bought some aggressive blinds and a new fan and am hoping both will help cool things down a bit. The wool blanket is in the linen closet for the season, and Sam's been making iced tea like it's his job. Summer has arrived! A few nights ago, the thought of actually doing much real cooking seemed a bit overwhelming, so I figured it was time to dig out the ice cream maker and get to work. I'd wanted to do something with the beautiful strawberries we have in the markets right now, but it seems every time I get a little pint it's gone before I have the chance. They are just so incredibly sweet, and it seems a shame to do anything other than eat them right out of the container, preferably while sitting on the Moroccan picnic blanket you brought back from honeymoon on the lawn in your new backyard trying not to stress out about the incredible, insurmountable number of weeds. So. Many. Weeds. But cherries: somehow the bag of cherries made it safely through the weekend, so I set about to find a great cherry ice cream recipe. 

Read More
No-Fuss Hot Fudge Sauce

No-Fuss Hot Fudge Sauce

When you have an eight month old baby, making social plans can be hard. Especially in the evenings. When I was pregnant, I read Bringing up Bebe and one of the big premises of the book is how the French feel strongly that babies and children can fit into your lives and that you shouldn't have to change and alter everything to accommodate them. I remember reading the book and thinking: YES! Life will be just as it was, except we'll have a small baby in tow. Obviously a few things would likely be different, but I didn't want to change our routines, change the way we cooked or approached time off together, or see our friends any less. Well of course I'm the fool. Or at the very least, I'm not as French as I thought I was. Today, we very much schedule things around Oliver's nap schedule and bedtime, but thankfully we have a lot of other friends with kids who get it. Friends who make homemade cookies, own ice cream businesses, and have really great taste in music. Friends who host the kind of occasion that warrants homemade hot fudge sauce and eating dessert first.

Read More
Dating Yourself

Dating Yourself

We're back! After a restful few days in Lake George, I ended up flying home while Sam spent a little time with his family in New Jersey and a few days in New York City by himself before taking the train all the way back to Seattle (a solid four day journey). If you know Sam, this isn't surprising; he loves trains. When he's gone, I quickly revert back to my single gal days of eating veggie quesadillas for dinner (over and over) and staying up working later than I'd like. We would talk on the phone often as Sam would narrate his very full days in New York City and the stops and layovers he had while on the train. After a few days of me lamenting the fact that I wasn't there to experience it all with him, he encouraged me to ditch the quesadillas and do something special for dinner. See a movie. Go to the museum for just an hour. In short: I needed to get better at dating myself.

Read More
Sara’s Peach Derby Ice Cream

Sara’s Peach Derby Ice Cream

I received The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon cookbook in the mail not long before we moved to our new house, and I remember lying in bed and bookmarking pages I was excited to try but also feeling overwhelmed with where to start: the truth is that this summer has been a relatively low-inspiration / low energy time in the kitchen for me. I'd been chalking it up to pregnancy but when I think back and if I'm honest with myself, my cooking style tends to be very easy and produce-driven during these warmer months. I rarely break out complicated recipes, instead relying on fresh tomatoes and corn or zucchini and homemade pesto to guide me. But last night I cracked open Sara's book and pulled out a few peaches I've had sitting on the counter, fearing their season may be nearing its end. This morning as I was making coffee, I sliced up the peaches, toasted the pecans and churned away -- having a bite (or maybe two) before getting it into the freezer to firm up. 

Read More