I’ve never been to India, but I can imagine the Chai Wallahs calling out to draw passersby into their stall! A custom blend is poured into a clay cup, and when finished the cup is thrown onto the ground. The scented air must be intoxicating. Westerners generally know Chai as a cloyingly sweet concoction served in a paper cup at most coffee shops. The Chai recipe you’re about to encounter is hardly Western, it’s adapted straight from an Indian kitchen. Oh, and by the way…”Chai” means tea, so when you say Chai tea, you’re saying tea, tea which doesn’t really make sense. Cheerio!
Tips for the Best Chai Ever!
- Blend milk, water, tea, spices, and sweetener together in a pot over medium heat. When bubbles start to form around the edges, stir it well. Bring to a second boil. Stir. Turn off heat. Steep for 10 minutes. We’ve found that if you make a gallon or more, steeping about 20 minutes is better. I don’t think you can steep too long.
- Use plain, old tea like bagged organic, Lipton tea. It may not be great on its own, but it makes beautiful Chai. You don’t have to buy expensive tea! I don’t use bagged tea, because I have loose tea readily available, though I use an inexpensive blend.
- Make your own spice blend to suite your taste. The black pepper and ginger are sources of spicy heat, so adjust accordingly.
- Use anywhere from 3 parts milk and 1 part water to 2 parts milk and 2 parts water, depending on how rich you’d like your Chai.
- You’ll need an inexpensive kitchen scale for this recipe. Trust us, you’ll be so glad you have a scale in your kitchen.
What to Have with Your Chai
We love a little bite to eat with most any kind of tea. In our home, Chai gets a salty bite to balance the sweet and spicy. We recommend:
- Pistachios or any kind of nut
- Cheese such as sharp cheddar, Kerrygold Dubliner, or other strong cheese
- Plain or savory shortbread
- Popcorn (seriously)
Best Chai Ever
- 75 g cardamom
- 7 g cloves
- 80 g black pepper
- 150 g ground ginger
- 150 g cinnamon
- 750 g black tea
- If using whole spices, use a blender to grind into powder. The spice blend can be kept separate and added to tea for Chai or can be used for any recipe where a Chai flavor is desired such as muffins, desserts, and more.
- Or blend the spices with the tea and keep in a jar for whenever you want Chai. The following recipe is based on the spices (Chai Masala) being blended with the tea.
- For one quart of Chai, blend 3 cups milk, 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons Chai blend (more or less to taste), ¼ cup sweetener (sugar, unrefined sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey).
- Heat ingredients in a large pot (to avoid accidental overboil). When bubbles form around the edges, stir well. Bring to a boil for a second time and stir well. Let steep for 10-15 minutes.
- Strain with a French press or through a fine strainer.
- To have Chai conveniently available, make a gallon, and store it in the refrigerator for at least a week.