Chai tea is one of my all-time favorite things, despite the name being redundant — “chai” simply means tea. What I’m talking about is masala chai, a traditional kind of spiced tea from India. It’s strong, fairly sweet, and packed with spices — good and good for you!
As seems to be the theme with pretty much every type of tea we’ve discussed, masala chai comes in an infinite number of varieties based on region and personal taste. Heck, my own recipe changes every time I make it. Try it yourself!
EL’s Guide to Slapdash Chai
You will need:
Water, milk (half and half or a dairy substitute drink work too), three bags of black tea (quality is irrelevant), a sweetener of some sort (I use honey, but sugar or even maple syrup work really well too), and a host of spices including any or all of the following: cinnamon, ginger, clove, black pepper, vanilla, nutmeg, and cardamom.
1. Fill the pot halfway with milk and most of the rest of the way with water. Chuck in your tea bags and let things start to heat up.
2. Once the mixture is hot, start adding spices. Cinnamon, ginger, clove and pepper are the most vital parts of what you’d recognize as the masala chai flavor, but all the others I listed are commonly used as well and make the drink infinitely more delicious. There are no set proportions to the amount of spicing you should use. Mix in smaller amounts first and keep sampling until everything is as strong and balanced as you like. Experiment away!
3. Be careful not to let the mixture boil over. If the milk scalds it’ll get a nasty film on top.
4. Once things have been heated and steeped for a sufficient amount of time (usually when the mixture’s juuuuust started to boil), take it off the heat. Pour it through a strainer to remove the stray tea bags and spice sludge that’s collected at the bottom of the pot.
5. Serve, and allow people to sweeten the drink as they’d like. If you don’t drink it all, don’t throw it away — it’s excellent chilled over ice too.
If you can’t be bothered to make this mix yourself, try Tazo’s tea packets (you’ll recognize the flavor as the blend used by Starbucks) or Oregon Chai boxed tea concentrate. The latter sounds sketchy but is surprisingly delicious.
Tea of the week: as described above. I got to teach Patrick how to make it, which amuses me to no end. It’s not every day you get to show somebody with a professional culinary background how to prepare a recipe!