Ginger Masala Chai uses a base of my favourite Ceylon and Assam black leaf teas, which I select from high-grown mountains and the lower grown estates to give body to the blend. I add the traditional spices of India including cinnamon, cardamom, fennel and ginger, as well as a local touch of Australian Mountain pepper leaf, from my home in Gippsland. I first discovered this Australian native growing on my property in Gippsland, Victoria when my neighbour said, “See that plant over there, it is an Australian native mountain pepper and it grows wild under the Blackwood trees all over the place here.” Mountain pepper grows berries each year during March and April which are deliciously aromatic dried and ground. In this Ginger Masala Chai, I’ve used the distinctive but gentler dried leaf, which gives a more subtle heat, evocative of the Australian rainforest. The mountain pepper plant features in indigenous traditional use, both cooking and medicinal. When it comes to growing native foods, the most knowledgeable people I know and count as friends are Gil and Meredith Freedman at Grow Lightly, in Korumburra, Victoria. They are passionate advocates of edible Australian natives, having planted a food forest with dozens of edible species in their back paddocks over many years.