How to Create Your Own Masala Chai Tea
If you're a tea drinker, chances are you love chai tea and its various blends. But you may be thinking that you could make your own chai tea for a fraction of the cost of some of those more expensive chai teas. And you'd be right.
A friend of mine in New York City made homemade masala chai for me because she was stunned by the cost she saw at the stores. Recently, I've been drinking a lot of chai, and I decided to blend my own. Here is a recipe I've concocted that I hope you will enjoy.
What Is Chai Tea, Exactly?
Chai, or masala chai, is a type of spiced tea. "Chai" actually means just "tea," so if we say "chai tea," we're actually saying "tea tea." Masala means spiced. So masala chai is "spiced tea."
Masala chai originated in India. In 1806, the British had brought tea from China to Assam, India, in order to cultivate it. Tea was primarily exported to Britain and was expensive for those living in India. However, the British-owned Indian Tea Association recognized a market in the early 1900s in India and promoted tea drinking. Tea was still costly, so the Indians diluted the tea with milk and added spices to make up for the less robust flavor. Thus, masala chai was invented out of necessity. But, it became very popular among Indians.
By the 1960s, tea production became mechanized, lowering the costs. Masala chai became even more popular in India because of the wonderful taste and the relatively inexpensive cost. Today, India still drinks most of the tea it produces; more than 70 percent of the tea that is grown stays in the country.
Basic Chai Recipe
Basic masala chai has only six ingredients other than water and milk: black tea, ginger, cinnamon, black peppercorns, fennel, and cardamom. This basic chai version you can make again and again without worry. That being said, you can also add "flavors" to your chai tea to make it taste the way you prefer. Add sugar, if you'd like. You'll find it so easy, inexpensive, and taste better than what you can get in a mix that you may just make your own chai all the time.
The amount of the recipe is for one serving plus, but you can double it or more for more cups. You may have to adjust the spices to suit your own taste, but the recipe is a start. You may add milk and sugar, if you prefer, or drink it without either. Both ways are perfectly acceptable.
Ingredients for 1 + Serving of Chai
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 slices fresh ginger
- 3 cardamom pods
- 2 peppercorns
- 1/4 tsp fennel
- 1 tsp Assam or other Indian tea, can be increased to 2 tsp
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup milk, optional
- 1–2 tsps sugar, to taste, optional
Other Optional Ingredients
There are many versions of chai tea. Some are flavored. You can add any (or all) of the following ingredients to make the chai tea your own.
- 1–3 whole cloves
- 1/4 star anise, broken into pieces
- 3–5 coriander seeds
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg, broken into pieces (not ground)
- 1/2 tsp cocoa nibs (for chocolate chai)
- 2 inches of vanilla bean (for vanilla chai)
Instructions for Brewing Chai
- Add all ingredients, except milk and sugar, in a saucepan and bring to a boil on the stove.
- Turn down the heat and let simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, or until tea is brewed to your preference.
- Strain into a mug. Add milk and sugar to taste, if desired. Enjoy!
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