When I was living in Washington, D.C., in my early 20s, two tandem events turned me into a homemade chai tea-maker. First, I was working as a retail clerk at a natural foods store with a juice and coffee bar. In an attempt to curb my coffee consumption, for nearly each shift I worked I’d order a hot chai and take it back to my station. And although I’d drink it, I found it to be far, far too sweet, as it came from a prepared, pre-sweetened mix.
Second, and almost equally without fail (I can be quite the creature of habit), every Saturday or Sunday morning (whichever one I wasn’t working), I’d hop on my bike and head over to the Teaism in Dupont Circle. Devoted to the teas of the world and their attendant cuisines, I’d order a bowl of Irish oats, a ginger scone and a mug of the restaurant’s exquisitely delicious, perfectly spiced, not-too-sweet hot chai.
Tired of the cloyingly sweet pre-packaged version I was getting at work and inspired by the version offered at Teaism, I eventually started making my own chai. For today’s Small Measures, I’m sharing my time-honed recipe with you. It couldn’t be easier, can be sweetened to your preference and fills your kitchen with the most invigorating aromas. This time of year I find it especially delectable, as the spiciness of cardamom and clove are perfectly suited to the season. Warm in the hands and warm in the belly, this chai recipe is a keeper. — Ashley English
Read the full post after the jump . . .
A Perfect Mug of Chai
- 4 c. cold water
- 4–6 cardamom pods* (depending how intense you like your chai)
- 4–6 cloves (per above)
- 4–6 black peppercorns (optional)
- 2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped (optional)
- 4 tsp. black tea (I use Darjeeling. You can also use three tea bags.)
- 4–6 tsp. raw honey (to your preference)
- 1/4 c. milk
*You’ll need to bruise your cardamom pods before adding them to the water, in order to expose the seeds inside. I do this by hitting them with the back of a spoon. Once cracked open, place the whole thing into the pot — pod, seeds and all!
1. Add water and spices to a medium-sized stainless-steel pot. Bring to a boil over high heat.
2. Reduce heat to low, place tea in a tea strainer and add to a pot along with honey and milk. Simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Remove from heat, cover and steep for 5 minutes longer.
4. Remove and compost tea, and pour chai in two large mugs. I like to leave the spices in, but you can discard them if you prefer.
5. Sip and smile!
Photos and styling by Jen Altman