Chai is steeped in a rich history. The name “chai” is actually the Hindi word for “tea”, which was derived from “cha”, the Chinese word for “tea”. In this case, the Hindi term chai means a mix of spices steeped into a tea-like beverage. Recipes for chai vary across continents, cultures, towns and families. But the traditional ingredients of a spiced tea blend usually include black tea mixed with strong spices, like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger and black peppercorns. The spiced tea mixture is typically brewed strong with milk and sweetened with sugar or honey.
Legend has it that the origin of chai dates back more than 5,000 years, when a king in what is now India ordered a healing spiced beverage be created for use in ayurveda..The heat from ginger and black pepper was believed to stimulate digestion; the antiseptic properties in cloves were thought to help relieve pain; cardamom was used as a mood elevator; cinnamon supported circulation and respiratory function; and star anise was known to freshen the breath.
- 3 – 4 whole peppercorns (depending on your heat preference!)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 8 cloves
- 12 green cardamom pods
- 3 inches of ginger, chopped/grated or cut into thin rounds
- 3 cups of water
- 3 cups almond milk *
- 2 1/2 – 3 tbsp honey (depending on your sweetness preference!)
- 3 tbsp good dried black tea leaves (I prefer loose leaf darjeeling or assam tea leaves)
*This will give you a basic chai recipe, if you prefer more flavor, add extra spices and experiment with what you like!
*Note if using regular milk, add ginger when you add the tea leaves to avoid potential curdling
- Crush the whole spices to a mortar and pestle and crush into large pieces.
- Bring a stove top pot up to a low/medium heat. add the crushed spices and toast for about 2 minutes, then add the ginger and continue toasting for another minute until the spices start becoming very aromatic.
- Add water and milk to the pot. stir and bring up to a light simmer – this should take about 10 minutes. Remove from heat as soon as the liquid starts to simmer.
- Add the honey and stir to combine. Then add the black tea and stir, let steep for about 5-10 minutes depending on how strong you like your chai.
- Pour the chai through a strainer to catch all of the whole spices.
- Serve warm or let cool and store in fridge to serve over ice.
Recipe published on camillestyles.com