Chai, the way I learned to make it, is strong and sweet. Traditionally, it involves a pot, the stove, strainers, boiling the brew up without boiling it over, and lots of milk and sugar. This simple blend offers the flavor of traditional chai without the extra clean-up or the extra calories. When you brew yours, add as much or as little milk and sugar as you desire. For a dairy free version, use soy milk, almond milk, or another similar non-dairy alternative…or take yours straight as I do. Honey makes a good sweetener if you don’t like sugar. Other less traditional but still tasty non-sugar alternatives you can use include:
- Licorice root
- Agave syrup
- Orange slice
- Apple slice
- Cinnamon stick
I use the coarse, granulated Indian black tea I get from my local Asian or Indian grocery. You can use any black tea you like. The stronger, maltier blacks like the Indian Niligaris and Assams will be more traditional in flavor than will a Darjeeling or a China black. Darjeelings and China Blacks are usually more delicate and complex black teas that can be overpowered by the intense flavors of the ginger, clove, cardamon, and cinnamon. The inexpensive stuff I buy for this blend is a hearty, warming match for the potent flavors those spices offer.
- 1/4 cup black tea
- 1 Tbsp. dried ginger root
- 1 tsp. ground clove
- 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. cardamon seeds (not the pods)
- 1 mixing bowl
- 1 spoon
- a resealable container large enough to hold the finished product
- a label
- Pour the herbs into the mixing bowl and gently stir them with a spoon. Try not to break up the plant parts since this will release the essential oils.
- Pour the mix into a resealable container.
- Label the container with the name of the mix, ingredients and date mixed.
Storage and Use
Keep your tea blend in a sealed jar in a cool, dry place, like your pantry. Make your tea a cup at a time using a teaspoon or two of tea for every 8 to 10 ounces of boiling water. For a teapot, adjust the amount of tea to accommodate your teapot’s capacity. Let it steep about 2-4 minutes. If you let it steep longer, it’ll be more bitter, which is terrific if you add milk or soymilk but less so if you don’t plan to add them.