5.6.14 Homemade Chai
Guys, I have to make a confession. I am not a coffee person. When it comes to hot caffeinated beverages, I’m always going to opt for tea. Never coffee. In fact, if you ever see me drinking coffee, it’s only because I’m battling some sort of hangover related malady (but of course, that NEVER happens). So tea it is.
I originally started drinking tea because I couldn’t stand coffee, and tea seemed like a good alternative. But before long, I really came to love tea and all of its many flavors and varieties. Everything from herbal tisanes and red Rooibos, to green Oolong, smoky Lapsang Souchong, and uber-caffeinated Yerba Mate. It’s hard to go wrong with tea. However, I’d have to say that one of my favorite kinds of tea is chai. Now technically, chai is a catchall term in many languages, that simply means ‘tea’. The lovely sweet, spicy milk and tea beverage we generally think of as chai is known more specifically as ‘masala chai’ in India, where it originated. It’s a delicious mix of black tea, spices, milk, and generally some sort of sweetener. And it’s basically amazing. Especially when you make your own.
On our recent travels to India, I drank a lot of masala chai. Like a lot. And of course I made it a point to purchase plenty of Indian black tea and masala chai spices before we left so I could make my own version at home. While I always enjoy a good cup of chai, I prefer mine to be a little less sweet and a bit more spicy than the stuff I get at the local coffee shop. The beauty of making your own chai is that you can control the flavor to make it just the way you like it. My recipe is a very slightly sweet version with a little bit of a spicy kick. But feel free to use the recipe as a guideline and adjust to your own tastes. Want less of a spice kick? Use less black pepper and fresh ginger. Want more sweetness? Add more sugar or honey. Before long, you’ll be drinking your perfect cup of masala chai. What could be better than that?
makes about 3 cups of tea mix
A hot, steaming mug of this stuff is pretty amazing (perhaps along with some of these tasty cardamom cookies). And it’s also fantastic chilled and served on ice as a refreshing cooler for the warm weather heading our way.
- 10 green cardamom pods
- 8 whole cloves
- 8 whole allspice berries
- 8 whole black peppercorns
- 2 small cinnamon sticks
- 1 Tbsp loose black tea or 6-8 black tea bags (such as Assam or Darjeeling)
- 1 2-inch piece of ginger root, chopped
- 4 cups water
- 1-2 Tbsp sugar or honey (or more to taste)
- milk for serving
1. Place cardamom pods, cloves, allspice and peppercorns in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and give them a very coarse grind (only a couple of pulses in the spice grinder). Or, if you don’t have either of these, you can put the spices in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
2. Place crushed spices, cinnamon sticks, tea, chopped ginger, and water in a pot over medium -high heat on the stove. (note: If using tea bags, cut them open and dump the loose tea into the pot, discard empty tea bags).
3. Bring tea mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes.
4. Strain tea mixture and discard solids - you should end up with about 3 cups of tea mix.
5. Mix in sugar and honey to taste until dissolved.
6. To serve, heat together 1 part tea mix and 1 part milk and serve immediately. For iced chai, chill tea mixture in refrigerator, mix with cold milk (1:1 ratio) and serve over ice. Store any leftover tea mixture in the refrigerator.