So, Rich and I have suddenly become addicted to Chai Tea.
Now, I don't mean a cloyingly sweet Chai Tea latte, or even a Tazo Chai tea bag, but a true cup of traditional Chai Tea. Our love for it just came out of nowhere, but we are really enjoying this new ritual. It's sweet and spicy and very comforting in cold weather.
But, since I'm a decaf girl, and since for some reason decaf Chai tea does not exist on this planet (at a reasonable price anyways), and since I'm sort of a do-it-yourself-er at heart, of course I set out to make my own Chai Tea Blend.
I began researching. There are different approaches. Many use a variety of whole spices, crushed and added to whole tea leaves. I was about to order all my spices and do it, when thankfully, I stumbled upon this blog, which contained a trusted family recipe that seemed easier. The approach was different. You take all the spices in ground form and add them together, making a Chai Masala spice blend. When you want a cup of Chai, you simply add some of the masala to whole leaf black tea, and steep it traditionally over the stove with water, milk, and honey. I liked this idea because 1) I already had all the spices on hand in ground form, and 2) It seemed like you would get a more consistent taste doing it this way. It seemed to me if you mixed the whole crushed spices with the tea in a big jar, the spices might settle and you might not get the true blend of taste you're looking for when you take out a portion.
So I tried it. Using my trusty digital kitchen scale, I made 1/4 of the Masala recipe to begin with, because I wasn't sure if I'd like it. It made a good amount, almost 1 cup of spice. In a small saucepan, I put a 1/4 tsp. of the Masala Chai blend, 1 1/2 tsp. organic loose leaf English Breakfast tea, 1 Tbsp. raw honey, 1/2 cup whole milk, and 1/2 cup water. I heated it over med-high and stirred as it came to a gentle boil. I then lowered the heat and simmered it 5 minutes. We purchased plain empty tea bags so I just put the tea in there and didn't have to strain it (but you can also use a tea ball or just throw the loose tea in, and strain it out).
When I tasted the Chai, I got really excited. It was AMAZING!! It's really flavorful, warm and spicy. In fact, it was a little too spicy so I added a little more of everything except the pepper to tame it a little. The ease of making a traditional cup of Chai is now a snap! Below is my modified recipe (after I reduced the pepper by about 20%). Feel free to taste it and then tweak it as I did to your own personal liking.
Chai Masala blend
125 g. black pepper, finely ground, (3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp)
125 g. ground ginger (3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp)
50 g. ground cinnamon (1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp)
50 g. ground cardamom (1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp)
5 g. ground cloves (2 tsp)
5 g. ground nutmeg (2 tsp)
Mix all spices together and store in an airtight jar.
Chai Tea Recipe
1/8-1/4 tsp. Chai Masala blend
1 1/2 tsp. loose leaf black tea (or any black tea bag)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup whole milk (do NOT use skim, you need the fat to bring out the Masala taste)
1 Tbsp. raw honey (or more if you like)
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Place over medium heat. Allow to heat until small bubbles appear around the perimeter of the milk. Stir the Chai, scraping the bottom to avoid scalding the milk. When the milk comes to a boil, turn off the heat and stir well. Allow to steep for 5 minutes. Strain carefully into a cup, and serve.