Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Homemade Chai Update!

I woke up today, saw clouds in the sky and rain in the forecast, and despite it being summer my brain screamed "CHAI!!!!!!!!" and I knew today would be a homemade chai day. I shared a recipe a long time ago, and I still use that, but have made a few alterations to brewing to help things go a bit more smoothly.

As a recap, my ingredients have not changed but I do not measure them anymore. I use a bit of ginger powder (this dissolves quickly in the liquid) because I do not have fresh ginger in the house most of the time, four cinnamon sticks, a teaspoon of cloves, a tablespoon of black peppercorns, and maybe ten pods of green cardamom. Before, I bring about three and a half cups of water to a boil, then turn off the head and steep all of these whole spices for about 20 minutes. Then, I would bring the water back up to a boil and toss in about four tablespoons of loose darjeeling black tea and let it steep for 5 or 6 minutes like I would a strong cup of tea. Then, I would strain the mixture, return the strained liquid to the pot, stir in honey, add about a cup of dairy (anything from fat free milk to half and half, depending on how rich I wanted it to be), and heat it up on low.

A major change in procedure was containing my steeping ingredients in a strainer. I used to just steep them all freely in the pot, then I added the tea loose, and then had to strain my final product into another container and then return it to the original pot so I could reheat it and add the dairy and sweetener. It was messy, it dirtied up another pot, and I am not graceful enough to not pour the hot liquid all over me during the process. 

Since then, I have acquired several teapots that come with their own strainers. I love these not just because I love the pots, but because I often take out the strainers and use them for other things, such as this. This way, I can steep the spices and quickly remove them, refill the strainer with tea while the liquid heats back up, then steep that in the same strainer. Once everything is steeped, I can remove that quickly too. Then I can just put in sweetener, honey is my usual choice, let it dissolve, and add dairy without the extra steps.

However, using the strainer meant that my favorite ingredient, cinnamon, wouldn't be totally submerged. I knew I could probably stick those in the water outside the strainer and get them out with a fork, they are bigger and easier to fish out, but in a flash of g̶e̶n̶i̶u̶s̶  basic logic, I realized that putting all of them in a plastic baggie and pounding them down would not only make them all smaller, but would open the spices and intensify the flavors! I used the base of a bottle of strained tomatoes as my mallet, but any firm jar will do, you don't need to hit any of it hard.

If you have a spare strainer, and a plastic baggie, take that extra step. It is SO much easier to clean and contain! 

Additional pro tip that normal people wouldn't need to be told: don't try to just dump your mixture from your pot to a mug, because you will spill everywhere. I have literally two years of experience attempting this. Just use a ladle. Easy peasy, no mess. Yes, it took me two years to have that flash of g̶e̶n̶i̶u̶s̶ basic logic as well. 

Better late than never, right?


  1. That chai looks so good!!! I've never made my own, but you're definitely providing some inspiration... :)

    Lately I've been drinking a Stash version called Gold Cup Chai- have you tried it? "This golden brew yields a sweet and spicy cup. Aromatic chai spices combine with turmeric, an Indian spice known for its brilliant yellow color and lively flavor." It's quite good. Also, they sent me a sample of Ginger Fire Chai... Leah, you totally should try this one! "This tea is a great warming blend created with the Chai lover in mind. A touch of fiery ginger adds a kick, yerba mate provides an energizing element, and cinnamon lends a nice spicy finish. The subtle sweetness of vanilla balances out the overall flavors nicely. Both ginger and chai fans alike will love this one." I'd never tasted anything like it!

    1. I have not tried it, but I LOVE chai in all forms. I will definitely need to keep an eye out when I am in the market to replace my tea! I enjoy Stash teabags for school, where I really can't be bothered with loose leaf.