The season of sweaters and snowflakes is upon us, and from where I sit, the snow flakes are in the form of cold, raw, rain. No, I am not going to be going outside, I am happily inside, warm and dry, sipping my mug of tea. I love tea, all types, but today I will share with you one of my all time favorites. From my cozy and chaotic kitchen to yours, welcome in the spicy aroma of Chai.
First you will need to gather up your tools and ingredients.
Mortar and pestle
medium sauce pan
measuring cups and spoons
Cheese cloth or fine mesh stainless steel strainer
teapot/serving container and/or multiple mugs
a hunk of fresh ginger – about 2 inches, peeled and cut into thin rounds
2 cinnamon sticks – get the good stuff, Ceylon cinnamon, if you can find it.
2 teaspoons black pepper corns
4-6 cardamom pods – I use four, sometimes three, as cardamom is not my favorite spice.
10 whole cloves
6 cups filtered water
6 black tea tea bags ( Rooibos tea is great if you want to make chai without caffeine)
1/2 cup honey – I use the fall honey from my bees. I like the dark, rich, flavor that gives the chai.
2 cups whole milk – if you really want a decadent drink use a bit of half and half or heavy cream.
Place the sliced ginger rounds in the medium sauce pan. Use the mortar and pestle to rough crush/ break into small chunks the cinnamon, pepper corns, cardamom pods, and cloves to release their flavors. Add the crushed spices to the ginger in the sauce pan and add the 6 cups of water to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low and simmer partially covered for 10 minutes. (At this point, your kitchen should be smelling fantastic!) Remove the pan from the heat and add to the spicy solution the 6 black teabags. Let the tea steep for 5 minutes, then remove the tea bags. Add the honey to the warm tea/spice mixture and whisk to dissolve. Warm the milk in a separate pan or the microwave until bubbles just form. Add the warmed milk to the tea/spice and whisk together. Pour the delicious concoction though the cheese cloth or fine stainless steel strainer to remove all the broken spice pieces. Your chai is now ready to enjoy.
I have a very large, hand thrown “tea cup” that rarely see the inside of my cupboard. When I make chai for myself, I strain it right into my cup, and let the rest sit in the pot on the stove. If I have guests over, I have a few funky teapots that I like to serve the chai in. Left overs are awesome over ice, I have even frozen some in ice-cube trays and used them to make frozen chai adult beverages.
As with any recipe involving strong spices and flavors, your use own taste as a guide. Feel free to experiment with the flavors, adding and subtracting til you have your perfect cup of chai. Let me know how your flavor experiment turns out.