If you’re unfamiliar with Chai, you may have been living under a rock for the last 15 years. Here in ‘murica we like to call it a Chai Latte and purchase it in grande sizes at the local Starbucks. While that version of Chai is undoubtedly delicious, I much prefer a more traditional Chai (or at least what I’m lead to believe is traditional by way of the local indian restaurants). Chai means “Tea” in Hindi. Traditionally it is prepared using black tea and whole spices. You definitely want to find whole spices for this recipe- most standard grocery stores will sell them, but if you want to get spices in bulk you can go to a local indian grocer. I usually get all my spices at the Indian store because you can save so much money. Just be aware that spices will eventually lose their potency if stored for too long.
The recipe is pretty darn basic. Throw some tea and spices in a pan, add some milk, and boil away. I call it: DIY Chai. Some people prefer their Chai without sugar, but I tend to prefer it sweetened. You can adjust the sugar content to your personal preference.
For Chai, you want to use a basic black loose-leaf tea. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but you should get a tea that is full-bodied. English or Irish breakfast work well. Prince of Wales tea is what I happened to have lying around so that’s what I used. I would definitely avoid using any perfumed teas, like Earl Grey, for this recipe because it will significantly alter the taste.
The spices you’re going to end up using are cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and star anise. (Star anise is not pictured because I forgot to throw it in before taking the photos, oops!) For easier clean-up, you may want to put the tea and spices in an infuser or cheesecloth.
Here I go having some fun with the camera.
I made a bubble, hehe.
- 3 cups of whole milk
- 1/4 cup of black loose-leaf tea
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 15 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed (do NOT substitute with black cardamom)
- 20 whole cloves
- 1 star anise
- 1/4 cup of sugar (or to taste)
- Place tea, whole spices, and milk in a small saucepan. Turn on heat to medium- high.
- Bring milk to a boil, stirring constantly. When it begins boiling, turn the heat down to a low simmer.
- Simmer for about 5-7 minutes, or until tea appears well-steeped.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the sugar.
- Strain the tea into cups or mugs using a fine-mesh strainer.
- Serve warm or chilled.