There are a few extra steps in making the chai if you want the medicinal benefits of the oils in the spices. Otherwise, you can just grind all the spices up together and throw it all in a pot. Since there are many ways to make the chai, I will present them a bit differently. You can use whole ingredients or powdered -- note that powdered ingredients cannot be roasted and will not have as strong a flavor. You can cold steep over night, or simmer for several hours in a crockpot or stovetop. My current favorite is to steep it in my electric coffee maker.
Note: If you like your chai spicier, add a little extra of the ingredients, let the mixture steep longer, or add less liquid to begin with.
Also Note: Because of the time it takes to roast, chop, and steep chai, I often make it in double batches, or triple or quadruple. Seriously. You will be addicted.
Also Also Note: Straining the chai can be a bit frustrating. I have found I need two steps: a fine mesh and a SUPER-fine mesh. I have been successful using a muslin tea-bag, a french-press, and the wire coffee filter in my coffee-maker. A paper filter will not work at all.
1/4 tsp whole Fennel seed
1 inch of cinnamon stick (or 1/2 tsp powdered)
4 black pepper corns
20 cardamom pods (or 1 tsp cardamom seeds, or 1 tsp powdered cardamom)
1/4 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp Vanilla extract (Optional)
4 Tbsp sugar (I like 2 Tbsp brown sugar and 2 Tbsp white sugar)
*if using honey or agave, remember they are sweeter than sugar: Use Less.
4 cups non-dairy milk, or cow's milk
4 tsp black tea, or 4 tea bags cut open
Super Super Easy Chai
Use powdered spices and just add them to the wet ingredients. Allow to cold steep for 1 to 2 days in a closed container in the fridge. Then strain, heat, and enjoy!
Pick either the roasted spice version (below) or the powdered spice version (above).
Add all the ingredients EXCEPT THE TEA to a pot on the stove or to a crock pot. Stir to incorporate. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat immediately and simmer for at least 20 minutes but up to 2 hours. You could even keep it in a crock pot if you were having a party, or bringing it to work for fun. The longer you simmer, the more flavorful the chai will be. Right before serving, strain the chai. Discard the spice-mud and return the liquid to the pot. Either steep the tea for 3 minutes in a cup or two of the chai, strain, and add the tea infusion back into the pot; or steep the tea in the pot for three minutes and then strain into mugs. If you let the tea sit in the pot for any length of time, the tea will release tannins and the remaining chai will be disgustingly bitter and useless. You are warned.
(And finally, my personal favorite!)
Cold-Steeped Roasted Chai
1. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the cardamom pods and remove the green husk. Then cut an inch off a cinnamon stick with kitchen shears. Crush the cinnamon into small bits.
2. Heat a small pan to medium and then add all the spices in group 1. Let the spices dry-fry for about one minute to release the beneficial oils. You want to be able to smell the spices, but not burn them! They should be a little golden, and little brown, and still a little green.
3. Quickly put the spices into a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder. Grind into a coarse powder.
4. Add these spices to a jar or other closed container. I have use the boxes of the coconut and nut milks when I didn't have a quart jar. If you are doubling the batch, add a spoonful to each container, alternating containers, to make sure you've added equal parts to each.
(If you are hot-steeping the chai, add the spices and liquid to a large pot or medium crockpot and follow the steeping directions above.)
Originally posted 13th November 2011 by Beth