Homemade chai

February 6, 2010

Well…the weather outside is frightful… No really, I’m not just singing, it is. We’re currently snowed in and likely to stay that way all weekend. Not optimal for someone who’s had a long week at work and wanted to go shoe shopping this weekend, not be locked inside. But I don’t seem to have much choice so this morning, to go with the snow, I made myself some homemade chai. And you get a bonus recipe from me for the week.

This recipe came from my online friend Sunita five years ago. We used to jokingly refer to it as slug tea because of how the ginger would come out looking at the end of the process. I know, an attractive visual as an introduction to this recipe. I really love both the taste and the adaptability of the recipe. I tried to get Sunita to write this post, but she’s got a lot going on (like all of the bargain shopping she does, go read her blog, you’ll be amazed) and since I talked about it on Twitter this morning, I wanted to share the recipe. Oh, and Sunita asks that we all stop calling it chai tea, please.

Homemade Chai
fresh ginger
5-6 cups water
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar sugar
1-2 tsp Red Label Tea I use decaf ceylon tea because I don’t do caffeine. You can use any black tea, really, but Red Label is traditional. Use loose leaf. No tea bags please.

1. No need to peel the ginger (you’ll be straining this tea at the end, not eating the ginger) but you will want to split it open and crush it some, to release the juices. I do this using my mortar and pestle but you can do it by just chopping it up a bit.
2. Put the ginger and water in a pan and boil for about five minutes. Boil. To bring the flavor of the ginger out and into the water. The longer you boil (or simmer), the stronger the ginger flavor, but you’ll also lose water too, so keep an eye on that.
3. Add the tea to taste (it’s strong, you really don’t need a lot) and let boil another five minutes or so.
4. Add milk and sugar. Boil again. It’s ready whenever you are.
5. Strain the tea into a mug. I use a Teavana 32 oz Perfect Tea Maker. Best tea maker ever, but also incredibly handy for straining chai.

I know, I made that seem really easy, but it is. The biggest trick is infusing the ginger flavor into the water. The recipe is hugely adaptable and you may wish to add more/less ginger, milk, sugar, tea. How much you add is up to your individual taste, and you can’t ruin the tea by experimenting with the amounts. You can also experiment with crushed cardamom pods, cloves, pepper, cinnamon, red pepper and dried orange peel. Go nuts figuring out which flavor combination works for you once you’ve tasted the basic recipe.

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