In India, chai is simply the word for tea. Thus, Indian chai is black tea (usually from Darjeeling or Assam) with the addition of milk and sugar. The term masala chai refers to spiced tea. The spices may vary but generally cinnamon, green cardamom, cloves, black pepper and ginger are the most common. Other frequently used spices are freshly grated nutmeg, star anise, fennel seeds…
Making a great cup of steaming hot masala chai is easier than you think and the end results are delicious! I recommend using loose tea leaves over tea bags, but the option is yours.
If you prefer, you can buy a ready made spice mixture (available in any Indian grocery store) known as Chai Masala (tea spice) or use your own favorite spices. If you prefer a plain cup of chai, just omit the spices.
Yield: 1 delicious cup of steaming hot chai
1 tea bag per cup (or 1 tsp of tea leaves per cup)
1 cup of water
½ cup of milk (can use low fat milk for a healthier version)
¼ tsp ready made chai masala powder (or use your favorite spices)
sugar to taste (or any sweetener of your choice)
In a saucepan, add the water along with any of your favorite whole spices (such as 1 small cinnamon stick, 1 slice of fresh ginger, 1 crushed green cardamom pod, 2 black peppercorns, 2 cloves…).
After 2-3 minutes, add your tea bag or tea leaves. Once the water comes to a good boil, add your milk and reduce the heat to a low simmer. If you are using a ready made chai masala powder, add it now. After a minute or so, strain and serve with sugar (or sweetener). Enjoy with your favorite snacks.
For Vanilla Chai, add a drop or 2 of vanilla extract. For Honey Chai, use your favorite honey instead of sugar. The flavor possibilities and combinations are virtually endless! You can also serve the chai over ice cubes for a cool and refreshing ice chai.
For Coconut Chai, add coconut milk instead of regular milk. Serve hot or over ice for a refreshing chilled beverage.
To make a delicious Chai Milkshake:
In a blender, combine the cooled chai with vanilla ice cream and blend until the desired consistency is reached.