Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How To Make a Great Cup of Masala Chai

Here in the U.S., we tend to think of chai as only meaning spiced tea, and when it is served with milk we call it a 'chai latte'.  The word "chai" is Hindu and means, simply, "tea".  The spiced tea is a Masala Chai - and it's nearly always served with milk (actually, it's generally simmered with milk).

Whatever you call it, though, you can be sure that the heady spices and warm milk will make for a soothing and delicious drink, just right for these last cold, wet days of Winter.  There are a few ways to make this, ranging from making a chai tea concentrate syrup that can be added to warm milk, to adding whole spices in with the tea, to using chai tea teabags.

When it comes to selecting your tea, a good strong variety is what you're looking for - some people even suggest that this is a good use for cheaper black teas, such as Lipton's, along with the necessary spices.

I may experiment with some of these other variations and share them here later - today, I'm showing what I did with what I had, which was a bag of loose Black Chai Tea with Assam tea, along with a typical chai masala spice blend that included cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, cloves and black pepper, along with a couple extras including calendula and vanilla.

Masala Chai
makes 4-6 servings

2 tablespoons loose chai tea
2 cups water
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon sugar or honey (or to taste)

1 saucepan
1 non-reactive bowl that can tolerate heat or 2nd saucepan, about the same size
1 strainer large enough to set over the bowl

Put the loose chai tea blend into the bottom of one of the saucepans, and add the water.  Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and steep for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, turn off the heat. Set the strainer over the bowl, and pour the contents of the saucepan into the bowl, so that the strainer captures the loose tea blend.

Return the strained tea back to the saucepan, turn the heat onto medium low and add the sugar or honey, stirring until it is completely dissolved.

Add the milk to the tea and stir to blend.  Gently heat without letting the milk get so hot it scalds, about 5 minutes.

Serve in mugs and enjoy!

I like mine with a lot of milk, and done this way it has the body of a good cup of hot chocolate, but you could reduce the milk down to half as much as the water and still have a very rich, flavorful cup of tea.  Absolutely, play with this recipe and vary the spices, the milk, and the tea amounts to suit your own tastes.

You'll find that this is the sort of marvelous beverage that everyone loves so much that they each have very strong opinions about the One True method of preparation.

As for me, I'll let them fight it out - I'll be too busy curled up under a warm throw blanket with a good book and a warm and delicious cup of chai.

Now that you're all relaxed, take a moment to read our review of Alchemy & Ashes and enter our giveaway for a gift set of handmade soap and lip balm - pampering doesn't get any better than this!

A couple notes:  sweetened chai is traditional, but if you're avoiding sweeteners by all means, try it without!  I'd favor raw honey over sugar because it is both delicious and nutritious, but if you're trying to avoid high-glycemic sweeteners, you may find a little dash of stevia works for you - it is a natural plant-based sweetener.

Additionally, I think this would work very well with either almond or coconut milk if you're avoiding dairy. Our milk is non-homogenized whole milk from a local area farm, but if you don't have access to something similar, you'll get better nutrients and a creamier taste if you go for coconut or almond milk than if you choose low fat/skim milk.

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  1. Wow that looks amazing, Greeks put cinammon cloves in their tea and whenever I drink it like that it connects me instantly to my Grandma. Thanks for this lovely post and linking up to #tastytuesdays

  2. When I found I was allergic to chai tea as a prepared mix, I started making my own with whole spices. Simmering the whole herbs - especially the fresh ginger -- takes chai to an even more heavenly height! Here's how I use them: http://lettersfromsunnybrook.com/snack-break-i-love-you-chai/ Glad you enjoy this delicious traditional tea as well :)

  3. There's nothing like a soothing cup of Chai tea on a cold day. Your Masala Chai sounds wonderful! Thank you for sharing it with us at the Hearth and Soul hop.

  4. I don't really care for tea, but this sounds good. Thanks for sharing at the Healthy Tuesday hop. :)

  5. This looks fantastic! I could have used this recipe this winter! Thanks so much for linking up with the Let's Get Real party.

  6. I've heard tea called chai in Turkey, and people I know from Pakistan... it almost seems universal. Thanks for your wonderful recipe. I regularly drink spiced tea and will try it.

  7. This sounds so good. Thanks for the great recipe. Visiting from Wake Up Wednesday Linky Party.

  8. Hi Lynda,
    I would really enjoy this delicious cup of Chai. Thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday, it is so nice to have you with us today. Have a great weekend and come back soon!
    Miz Helen

  9. This sounds perfect for the winter! Thanks for sharing on the weekend re-Treat link party!

    Britni @ play. Party. Pin.

  10. Just wanted to stop by and let you know you're featured on Share Your Stuff Tuesday this week! :)

  11. Great recipe and how to!! Thanks for sharing at TTF!

  12. This sounds so yummy and cozy. I think it's funny that you explain "chai" because around here people (myself) included will order a chai tea....lol. I learned a few years ago that's like ordering tea tea. Still, that is what we call it.

    Thanks for sharing with us at The HomeAcre Hop!

    Please join us again Thursday at:


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