Sunday, 6 July 2014

Chai from Scratch

Last week I forgot to put a tea bag in my lunch bag and ended up going to the cafeteria to get a hot drink. I had a choice of decaffeinated tea (uggh!) or a chai tea bag in hot water. The chai was weak and watery unlike the creamy and delicious drinks I have been served at Indian restaurants. This week I experimented with masala chai recipes and came up with one that is versatile and inexpensive. Vanilla beans are the most costly item but they are optional. The best way to make vanilla chai is to add vanilla syrup as your sweetener. My vanilla syrup recipe is here. The cinnamon sticks in the ethnic section of our supermarket were less than half the price of the cinnamon sticks in the baking aisle. The other spices were purchased at a bulk store. I like the heat of ginger and added a generous amount but any of the spices can be increased or decreased according to preference or availability. Assam tea is traditionally used and a bold black loose tea is my choice. Green tea or rooibos tea can also be used.

This recipe is based on one found at Crunchy Betty's epic guide to making your own chai. I like a stronger brew and increased the amount of tea and some other spices. It is worth reading the information about chai at this link.

  • 7 cinnamon sticks (3 inches long), broken into smallish pieces
  • 15 green cardamom pods  (crushed/cracked with a mortar and pestle)
  • 15 whole cloves
  • 5 allspice berries coarsely crushed
  • Ginger root- 2-3 inches, cut into slices
  • 1 tsp black or white peppercorns coarsely crushed
  • 2 vanilla beans, sliced open (optional)
  • 9 cups of cold water
Combine the above ingredients in a pot and simmer for 30 minutes on the stove. Remove from the heat and add

  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed (or anise seed) 
  • 4 tablespoons black tea leaves or equivalent amount in tea bags
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
Let the tea steep for 15 minutes (less or more time according to preference) and strain into a jug.
You now have 8 cups of chai concentrate which can be kept in the fridge. When you are ready to have a drink, heat the chai and add warmed milk and sweetener of your choice. I like a ratio of 3:1 tea to milk and add 1 spoonful of honey to a 12 ounce mug.


1 comment:

Kira Stewart-Watkins said...

Thank you for sharing the recipe! It sounds so good! (And I bet it smells fantastic while it is cooking.)