Thursday, July 16, 2009

For the Love of Chai

The Tao of Chai
I am a chai freak. Chai latte, to be exact. The combination of spices apparently has some emotional/mental effect on me.
Making homemade chai is such a comforting process, and for me, worth all the time and effort involved. So I'm going to walk you through it, since most of the time I give a quick synopsis and recipe, leaving out details you must figure out as you make it. This is not a huge problem, it's not science, it's cooking, so enjoy!

There are expenses involved, some of which you can fudge. I use a mortar & pestle, french press, a strainer and a large pot. You could use a crock pot, then stain it into another pot, but you want to get all the goop out. I also keep a press pot cozy made of recycled wool on my press pot, of course, available in my etsy shop :-) so we can keep it warm while we sip. I'm giving a recipe for 1-2 cups, so double or triple it to make more. It's a matter of flavor, and as you make it you will see what ingredients you'd like more or less of. So here's the ingredients you'll need:
1 cup whole milk (you can use cream, it's really heavy though)
1 cup water
1 tea bag or enough loose tea for a cup (I empty out the tea loose into the pot). My friend who gave me the recipe uses only Tetley British blend, but she's a tea perfectionist. I'd say she's right, but it's not mandatory.
A cinnamon stick or a tsp of cinnamon
4-6 cloves
a pinch of allspice
4-6 cardamom pods
4-6 white peppercorns
4-6 black peppercorns
(you may want to start with 3 of each of the pepper, I like mine spicy, and it WILL be spicy with more pepper)
sugar or honey to taste (I use a T or 2 of sugar, I have a sweet tooth, you can add more later)
1 T grated ginger, or maybe a tsp of ginger juice. If you use dry ginger, perhaps start with a tsp and you can add more next time. I love it gingery.
Grind the whole spices in your mortar & pestle, or if you don't have one, put a tea towel over them and pound them a bit.

Here's the thing. I never make one cup. If I'm going to take the time to make it, I make a pot with 4 cups each of water & milk, then save the rest. Some recipes say to put it all in, adding the milk last, I just put everything in and simmer for about 1/2 hr. The key is to boil off most of the water. This makes a heck of a strong cup of tea, so be warned if you're going to drink it late.

I strongly advise watching it for boiling over, it can. I also advise standing over it and inhaling the immensely YUMMY aroma. This is almost the best part.

I then strain or scoop out as much of the gunk as I can before I put it in my press pot. It's pretty gunky. Press it through, then give a little taste for sweetness. Pour a cuppa, and ooooooohhhhhhhh. Enjoy! If I forgot anything, my apologies, ask me any questions you like. Share it with a friend! My best friend put all the dry ingredients in a jar for me as a gift once, it was so good! Every batch will come out a little different, but once you get the hang of it you won't even need to measure.

Have some for me!


  1. Yummo! Have to try that one of these day when it get cooler.

  2. I am with you, Chai is my private pleasure. No one else at home likes it; so more for me.