I love chai, but for a long time I couldn’t drink them because every commercially-produced chai tea contains ginger, and I am one of the unlucky few who happen to be allergic to the delicious rhizome. After years of pitiful pouting, I had the idea to deconstruct an ingredient list and thus began my experimentation with homemade chai.
It took a few tries, but after some trial and error (and error, and error…) I came up with a recipe that I think is pretty damn good, and it takes less than 15 minutes.
One big mistake I made early on had to do with the spices I was using. As you probably know, the spices are what makes the chai. If you are using old, outdated crap out of the back of the cabinet, your chai is going to taste like that unwrapped mint you found in the bottom of your granny’s purse when you were four. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Get your butt to a store that carries a good selection of spices, and make sure they aren’t old. Trust your instincts; if you feel like you should ask a manager how old those cinnamon sticks are, just buy them somewhere else. And if you live in the middle of nowhere, you can find inexpensive spices online. I’ve had great service from Penzeys (and they’re not paying me anything to say that).
- 3 cups water
- 6 black peppercorns
- 4 cardamom pods (green if you can find them)
- 3 pieces of star anise
- 2 small sticks of cinnamon, broken into pieces
- 4 cloves
- 1" piece of ginger, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbs of sugar
- 3 tsp or 3 bags of black tea
- 3 cups milk (I prefer soy, but do what makes you happy)
- In a large pot, bring water to boil. Add the peppercorns, cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.
- Boil for 5 minutes and reduce heat to low.
- Add tea and sugar and simmer for 3 minutes.
- Add soy milk. Let simmer for another 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and strain.
You can either strain your chai right into a mug or do what I do and pour it into a French press. It’s more convenient and easier to strain that way, plus you can take the pot with you for refills.