As you may have guessed by now, I enjoy a good chai latte. I’m also very picky about the flavour of chai, as it varies so greatly from recipe to recipe. I have tried again and again to make a good chai at home, and have bought about a dozen different brands of chai tea bag, but none have really had the flavour that I like best. Today I set out to try spice combinations until I found the one that would make the perfect chai.
I picked up some ingredients from the grocery store here on the island including organic spices from Gathering Place, local honey, fresh ginger and some other chai mixes so I could compare tastes. Then I got to work!
I made a few that weren’t so great (too weak, too sweet), but also had a couple of successes. I did a lot of scouring the internet and there are a ton of recipes out there! All seem to be very similar, but with tiny tweaks to the ingredients and quantities. The particular spices that came up most included cardamom, cloves, black peppercorns, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, fennel seeds, star anise, vanilla and even bay leaves. The first recipe that I had success with was based on one I found online (original attempt is pictured above, but the ingredients below are what I altered it to), and it went like this:
1/2″ cube of fresh ginger, sliced thinly
6 cardamom pods (crushed lightly with the flat of a knife blade)
4 whole peppercorns
6 whole cloves
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1 stick of cinnamon broken into pieces
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 bag of black tea (I used Twinings Darjeeling)
1 cup water
1/2 c milk (I used vanilla flavoured soy milk – the first round I included a vanilla pod in the recipe and found the result of all the vanilla to be too sweet)
2 tsp brown sugar (I also experimented with different sweeteners including agave syrup and honey, but found brown sugar to be the best – especially after searching for the East is East recipe for chai – which as it turns out is a secret! – and finding this blog which noted they used brown sugar to sweeten their amazing recipe)
Bring water to a boil and add all ingredients except for milk and sugar and let simmer for 5 minutes (it’s ok if the tea bag busts). I kept the lid on while it simmered, but gave it a whisk before the next step. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer into your cup, then add milk and stir in sugar.
The second recipe that was a big success, and my favourite of the morning, used ground ingredients instead of whole (pictured above!), and came from this website, which I modified slightly.
1 tbsp ginger powder
1 tbsp cardamom seeds
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp ground black pepper
1-1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
Mix these ingredients together and store in a clean jar. To make the tea:
1 cup water
1 bag of black tea
1 cup milk
1 tsp of the above mix
Brown sugar to taste
Bring water to a boil, then add tea bag, 1 tsp of mix, and 1 cup of milk and bring to a boil again. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t boil over! Pour the mixture through a fine strainer into a cup and add sugar to taste. Enjoy!
Here we have the finished chai pictured in one of my new cups and a semi-matching tea pot, gifted to me years ago by one of my best friends (the same who gifted me the stuffed owl a few posts back, she knows me so well!)
I made a big mess but it was totally worth it!! I’m happy to announce I will no longer have to rely on Starbucks’ Tazo blend of ready made chai mix. In the future I would love to get a small coffee grinder to use exclusively for spices for chai mixes and hoard big batches of it in the pantry. MMMMMMmmmmmmm!