Home made Chai Tea

How about a delicious cup of Chai – Try out these 2 recipes 

The Basics of Chai

Chai is a ubiquitous drink in India.  It is made across the country and is drunk both at home and at tiny tea stalls on road sides everywhere.  Interestingly, this beverage that so many people associate with India
was actually not consumed until the time of the British Raj.  India grew a large amount of tea in areas such as Assam and Darjeeling, however the majority of Indians consumed coffee.
The British East India Company became concerned as they realized they were losing a vast source of income to the Chinese, who had a virtual monopoly on tea sales.  Thus, the East India Company began promoting tea to Indians.  At first, the Indians were skeptical, and did not want to abandon their strongly flavored coffee.  But eventually someone added strongly flavored spices to a sweet and milky tea and masala chai took off!  The chai is sweet and spicy with a subtle burn at the back of the throat.  It is, in a word, wonderful.
The Tea Leaves
The tea used in chai is very crucial to the final flavor of the tea.

 Many people assume that they have to use the best quality tea available and use whole leaf Darjeeling or Assam tea, and end up with chai that does not taste quite right.  The tea for masala chai is a variety known as “mamri” or “little grain” tea.  It
is cheap and strong and holds its own against the strong spices in the chai.  Make a trip to an Indian grocery store to buy brands such as Lipton Yellow Label, Jivraj No. 9, or Taj Mahal.  If you do not have an Indian store nearby, buy Lipton or some other similarly cheap and strong black tea bags from the grocery store.  This tea will probably become your “chai only” tea, as it is not necessarily the best to drink plain, but is absolutely wonderful with milk, spices, and sugar. ( if you are in Wagga there is one on Gurwood street)
The Masala
 The chai masala is a delicious blend of cloves, ginger, cinnamon,
cardamom, nutmeg, and black pepper.  All of the spices add a delicious warmth to the chai, and the black pepper and ginger add a subtle heat as well.   In this recipe there is  a specific ratio that we follow to make the spice blend, but feel free to adjust it as you deem fit.  If you’d like less burn
, decrease the black pepper, if you love cardamom, bump that up.  The recipe is a great guideline and making your own Chai  the seasons and your mood change!
Warning–Nerdy science note:  The flavors that make spices taste delicious are all aromatic compounds.  Aromatic compounds are made of molecules that contain a structure known as a benzene ring, meaning they dissolve best in alcohols or fats.  You may have noticed this when making drinks, that adding a twist of lemon to a martini adds significantly more flavor in a shorter amount of time than adding a twist of flavor to a glass of water.  Similarly, if you make this chai with a non-fat milk, you won’t extract as many flavors from the spices as if you make it with a milk that has some fat.  So do your spices a flavor, and don’t make this with skim milk.  Nerdy science note done.
Making the Chai
Put all the ingredients in the pot and let it come to a slow boil until it turns a beautiful, rich color.  Best to use loose leaf tea, so it is necessary to strain the tea once it is fully cooked (having a spouted pot will really help decrease spills).  Strain the tea, sit back, and enjoy.
Recipe:
 
Per 8 oz:
1/2 cup milk (not skim milk, see nerdy science note above)
1/2 cup water
1 to 2 tsp. sugar, or your favorite sweetener
1 tsp. loose tea leaves
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. chai masala depending on your spice preference, see recipe below
Pour all ingredients into a (preferably spouted) 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.  Bring to a boil once again, turn off the heat and stir well.  Allow to steep for a few minutes.  Strain carefully into a cup, and serve.
Chai Masala:
160 g. black pepper, finely ground, (1 cup + 3 Tbsp)
125 g. ginger powder, finely ground (3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp)
50 g. cinnamon powder, finely ground (1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp)
50 g. ground cardamom, finely ground (1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp)
5 g. clove powder, finely ground (2 tsp)
5 g. nutmeg powder, finely ground (2 tsp)
If you are using whole spices, weigh out the appropriate amount, place in spice grinder and grind into a fine powder.  Mix all the spices together, store in an airtight jar in a cool, dry part of your kitchen.  Do not expose to too much sunlight.

 

Recipe 2

INGREDIENTS

chai-spice-list-thumb-a.jpg

Spice ingredients for one pot of tea:

  • 1/2 of a star anise star
  • 10-12 whole cloves
  • 6-7 whole allspice
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon bark (or 2 short sticks)
  • 6-7 whole white peppercorns
  • 1 cardamon pod opened to the seeds

Other ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 4-6 cups whole milk
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of a high quality full-bodied broad-leaf black tea (Ceylon, or
  • English Breakfast if a broad-leaf Ceylon is not available) Sugar

black-tea.jpg

METHOD

1 In a 2-qt saucepan, add spices to 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil; remove from heat; let steep for 5-20 minutes, depending on how strong a spice flavor you want.

2 Add 4-6 cups of whole milk to the water and spices. If you don’t have whole milk, you can also use non-fat or low-fat milk, just add some cream to it, a few tablespoons. Bring the milk and spice mixture just to a boil and remove from heat.

3 Add the tea to the milk and let steep for 5 to 10 minutes to taste. (Option at this point – reheat to a simmer and remove from heat.) You can add sugar at this point, or serve without sugar and let people put the amount of sugar in they want. Traditionally, sugar is added before serving.

4 Strain into a pot. Serve. Add sugar to taste.

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