Homemade Traditional Chai Tea
There was a time where I thought the only way chai tea was made was from a packet of powdered mix or from a bottle with a pump, full of flavored syrup. Granted it was a long time ago but so often when enjoying chai at a restaurant or coffee shop that is what it was made from. No simmered black tea leaves or real spices of any kind involved. And while an occasional "soy chai tea latte no water" is pretty tasty, it pales in comparison to the real deal.
At one point after a particularly disappointing chai like concentrate purchase, I decided to buy and bring home some loose leaf black tea with chai spices from a local tea shop and brew my own tea at home. After finishing steeping, I added milk, and happily took a sip. Happiness instantly turned to sadness and my concoction meeting the drain. Disappointment again! Because while I was on the right track, the proper technique and ratio of tea to water was unknown. I basically had made lukewarm watery milk with essence of spice. Weak tasting and too light in color. Boo!
I remember the first time I had real traditional chai tea from what would then become my favorite authentic Indian food restaurant. It was warm and creamy, spicy and smelled sooooo good, and there was absolutely no aftertaste that all too many "chai teas" have (what's in those "natural flavors" anyway?). And personally I prefer my chai without the dye.
So how might one achieve the perfect integration of milk and tea? The delightful balance of cinnamon and pepper, sweet and spicy that is masala (an Indian word meaning mixture of spices) chai you may wonder?
Look no further, I've broken it down for you here. In no time you'll be sipping on a cup of my all time favorite warming fall time beverage. When I think autumn I think chai.
First you'll gather the spices you need to make the base mixture. You'll be able to jar or bottle the mix so you can make the tea more readily in the future. This is just a dry combination of ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, anise, peppercorns and bay leaves.
Chai Tea Spice Mixture
1 oz crystallized ginger bits (candied ginger)
1.5 oz cinnamon bark broken into chips
1 oz green cardamom pods
8 star anise pods broken up
1 oz whole cloves
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 large bay leaf broken into pieces
Mix it all together and store in an airtight jar.
Feel free to tweak the ratio of spices to suit your tastes.
Traditional Chai Tea
4 tbsp chai spices (see above)
4 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp black loose leaf black tea (your choice*)
2 cups almond milk
6 cups filtered water
1. In a medium size pot bring to a boil six cups of water.
2. When water is boiling add 4 generous tablespoons of chai spices, reduce the heat, and let simmer for 5 minutes.
3. After the five minutes, turn off the heat and let the spices steep for 10 minutes.
4. Add the 2 cups almond milk and bring back up to a simmer.
5. Remove pot from heat and add the 2 tablespoons of black tea and the brown sugar. Steep 5 more minutes.
6. Lastly strain your chai tea and serve!
You can store any extra brewed tea in a glass pitcher in the fridge for a couple of days and just heat up again on the stove before drinking.
This goes great with a slice of cardamom cake.
*my favorite black tea for extra extra chai-ey-ness: Teavana's Chai Yen Thai black tea. Also fabulous brewed by itself.