Chai is such a wonderful cold weather tea that I wanted to share with you how I make it. Chai, or masala chai, means ‘mixed spice tea’ and originates in India.
Usually chai is made with a base of black tea, which you are welcome to do. However, I encourage you to make a caffeine-free version without the black tea; save your body the stress. Instead of black tea, I include burdock or dandelion root and add a touch of peppermint at the very end of the steeping process.
So, gather up these basics. If you truly don’t like any of these herbs, by all means, leave them out. This is your chai!
cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, clove, ginger, black pepper
burdock or dandelion root (I like to put one or both of these in to give the chai a nice earthy base note, plus it is good for your liver.)
peppermint, or chocolate mint, at the very end
Some other spices I put in, depending upon my mood;
fennel, orange peel, carob, chicory
Personally I like to go heavy on the cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and black pepper and light on the clove and star anise.
Select the herbs you want to use, leaving out the peppermint for now. I like to simmer my teas in a glass pot, avoiding any metallic taste or interaction. Put a good three to four handfuls of your herb mix in the pot and fill with water. Cover and simmer for at least one hour.
Taste it and see where the flavor is; you’ll want it to be strong. I generally simmer my chai for at least two hours, plus it makes your home smell amazing!
Once your chai has reached the desired strength, turn off the heat, add in a couple of tablespoons of peppermint and cover it again. Let the peppermint sit for about ten minutes then take out the peppermint. The peppermint really does take over quickly, so be careful on this step.
Now the base of your chai is done.
At this point you can either make up your chai by the cup or use a smaller pot. Put chai in your favorite mug and add milk and honey to taste. I usually like about two-thirds chai to one-third milk; almond or hazelnut milks are my favorites with chai. You can use any kind of milk; cow, goat, soy, oat, nut, etc.
If you aren’t drinking your whole pot of chai in the first day, strain out the herbs and store the chai base in your frig. You can even freeze some of it. Those chai herbs you strained out can be used again for a total of two to three times; store them covered in the frig since they are now wet.
Now take that aromatic steaming mug, sit back, look out the window and enjoy your delicious chai.