Masala Chai

16 Jun

Whenever my Indian relatives come over they make spiced tea on the stove top.  (The only cafe incarnation that’s met my expectations since is at Small World Coffee, in Princeton, NJ.)  This is a simplification of the method I use at home, which produces a spicy chai that’s not as sweet or milky as commercial versions like Oregon chai.  P.S. The wikipedia page on chai is actually pretty good and mentions the Kashmiri version, which I’ve never made at home… but now have to try.


Prep: 10-15 minutes

Makes 2 large cups

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup loose black tea or 4-6 tea bags (use a strong black, like English Breakfast, or Irish if you have it)
  • milk
  • 8-10 cardamom pods (or 1 tsp ground cardamom)
  • 5ish crushed cloves
  • 10ish black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 3.5 tsp sugar (or 1 oz. simple syrup.  I use my ginger-red pepper simple syrup–that recipe is on its way)

  1.   Place all your spices in the saucepan and add the water.  Heat it to a rapid boil.
  2. After a few minutes of boiling, the spices should begin coloring the water.  Lower the heat and add your tea.
  3. Simmer it for 3-5 minutes depending on how strong you want it to be.  Remove the tea.
  4. Stir in your sweetener and bring the mixture back to a boil.
  5. Add your milk (I use about half a cup to a cup) to taste, and remove from heat.  Then strain out the whole spices.
  6. DRINK!  Adjust to suit your taste by adding more milk or sweetener

If you are truly pressed on time and want to make this in advance–or if you want it iced–you can make a quantity of the tea concentrate (steps 1-4) and refrigerate it.  Add the milk when you’re ready to drink.  You can also use the tea concentrate to make chai milkshakes and even cocktails (I’ve been seeing these crop up lately–the “chai-tini” actually exists–as do chai versions of coffee drinks like Cajun coffee and the white Russian.)



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