Chai means “tea” in Hindi.
Some of us have repeated ourselves by asking for “Chai Tea” at our local tea and coffeehouses, bought the convenient quart box at the grocery store, or have steeped individual chai flavored tea bags. Here is how to make it at home using the raw ingredients- the same ingredients used for many thousands of years by kings and other Chai lovers from China to India and other exotic places. Chai recipes not only vary from region to region, but from family to family.
My good friend Suparna, raised in India, happily shared some trade secrets- telling me how easy it was to do after she began reciting her family’s recipe by heart. The spices she gave me were carried all the way from her last trip to Dubai. She uses a 3/4 cup water and 1/4 cup milk ratio for each cup of tea. Although some may add milk at the end, Suparna boils both the milk and the tea together so “it forms a froth and a deeper flavor.” She grates the ginger, not slices. When she’s in a pinch, she’ll add Marsala (a powdered combination of all these types of spices) instead to plain, regular black tea and milk.
The four common elements of Chai are; black tea, spices, milk and sweetener. From there, you can create, substitute, rearrange, and omit- maybe even create a special variation for your family.
I used pure Assam teabags by Taylor’s of Harrogate which is grown in the Brahmaputra Valley in north-east India. My spin is that i like to add the brown sugar at the same time as the rest of the spices, opposed to at the very end so i don’t forget. It also enables me to begin the clean up process while it’s brewing. I find that grating the ginger, like my friend suggests, really does add more flavor.
Home Brewed Chai – serves 4
3 cups cold water
1 cup cold whole milk
(1) 1-inch peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 whole cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
4 whole cardamom pods, crushed lightly with mortar and pestle
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
2 Tbls brown sugar
2 black tea bags or the equivalent of 1 Tbls loose black tea leaves
Add all ingredients- except for the tea- into a medium pot. Bring to a boil, watching carefully for the froth to not boil over. Reduce heat to low and cover- simmering for 10 minutes. Add tea and steep 5 more minutes. Strain into a heat resistant container. Pour and serve.
Inhale the Ayurvedic aromas, and sip in its healing, cleansing powers.
Chai, as you know, is warm, sweet, and creamy. It’s a luxurious drink that is so cozy and medicinal, you’ll want to share it with loved ones.
Cook it. Share it. Live it.
Amy Baker Wambold is a volunteer Ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Community. Amy follows her passion for raising real food awareness, writing and food photography through her blog, http://www.junkfoodjournal.com, which focuses on the beauty and entertainment of real food and family.