Sweet, spicy and comforting, this chai tea recipe is the perfect winter drink. You can buy ready made blends of chai tea, but by making your own you can personalize the blends of spices to create your perfect cuppa!
Chai Tea originally comes from India. In Kolkata, one of world’s great tea-trading cities where chai is known as cha, it is often served in wonderful hand-thrown terracotta cups which seem to add an earthy sweet taste to the tea. In other areas conical recycled glasses are used to serve chai, often one within another to protect your hands from the piping hot frothy drink. The chaiwallahs who make these concoctions on street corners across the country are often famous for their special recipes. Below is a simple chai blend recipe you can personalize yourself and some simple instructions for making chai the easy way.
Across India, there are regional differences in chai recipes. This recipe is based on a chai from the north-east of India but feel free to add small amounts of other herbs and spices, such as star anise, fennel seeds, peppercorns, nutmeg and bay leaves.
50 g/1¾ oz. Orthodox Assam
20 g/¾ oz. cardamon
10 g cinnamon
18.5 g dried sliced ginger
1.5 g cloves
Makes 100 g/3 oz.
If possible use a fuller fat milk like the buffalo milk often used to make chai in India as it will give the drink a lovely richness that a skimmed milk cannot. In India good CTC (the very small curled leaf tea) black tea is usually used and it is fine for a chai blend. My personal preference is always for a strong Orthodox tippy Assam. You may want to gently crush the spices before making the chai to release more of their flavour. My method of brewing chai is to use the cups you will drink from to measure the amount of milk (approximately 2 cups) you will use. By gently warming the milk and making sure not to scald it by going over 70˚C/158˚F, you should be able to make a naturally sweet drink but if you enjoy your chai very sweet do feel free to add sugar at the end.
14–16 g Chai tea
340 ml/11½ oz. whole milk
Makes 2 servings
Pour the milk into a saucepan. Alternatively you can measure how much you will need by using the two cups or glasses you will drink from. Gently warm the milk on a low heat for 2–2½ minutes. Add the chai tea and slowly stir the milk and tea in the saucepan.
Keep the milk at a temperature of between 55˚C–60˚C/130˚F–140˚F while the chai brews. You may have to occasionally remove the saucepan from the stove to keep the milk within these temperatures.
Taste the tea with a spoon to check how it is brewing and when it has reached your desired strength, remove the saucepan from the stove and pour the chai into your two cups or glasses.
This recipe is from Easy Leaf Tea by Timothy d'Offay, with photography by Jan Baldwin © Ryland Peters & Small