Warm up your day with a super-simple, spicy cup of chai.  Way less expensive than any chai you buy at the grocery store or coffee house, if you have never made chai tea at home, you will be surprised at how fast and easy it is.  Fresh ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom simmer for a bit on the stove and fill your kitchen with a warm, fragrant, soothing steam.  Add black tea and steamed milk and the mixture becomes an addictively spicy brew that warms you to your core.  Just what you need in the damp Northwest chill and drizzle we know as February.  And it’s better for you, too.  That chai tea latte you have become so fond of at the coffee house has a lot of sugar.  How much?  More than a Snickers bar.  More than 3 glazed Dunkin Donuts.  Sad, but true.

Chai tea you make yourself can be very healthy.  The fresh ginger it contains can help digestion, reduce nausea and help fight the flu and common cold.  It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and can help reduce exercise-induced muscle pain, lower blood sugar, reduce cholesterol levels, protect against Alzheimer’s, and may help fight infections.  Tea contains antioxidants, may reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke, and has many other health benefits as well.

Keep in mind that there is no one recipe for making chai, but rather just some key ingredients: green cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, peppercorn, nutmeg, cloves, star anise and fennel are all possibly used.  Chai is also made with black tea, but you can substitute rooibos, which is what I like to use.  Get your cardamom pods from the bulk spice bin at your grocery store.  This saves you money by letting you buy a small quantity and also ensures that they are fresh.   And even though I have made this recipe dozens of times, I have never used the vanilla it calls for.  Boil water and spices, steep tea, add warmed milk of choice and as much, or as little, of whatever kind of sweetener you prefer and you’re set!

Chai Tea

  • 10 whole green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (about 2 inches) peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
  • 1/3 cup honey, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 4 bags black tea
  • 1 1/2 cups milk of choice

Pour 3 cups water into small saucepan.  Add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla bean and scrapings.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer about 15 minutes.  Whisk in honey, if using, and add tea bags.  Turn off heat and let steep for 3 minutes.

Strain tea through a fine strainer into a warmed serving pot.  Heat milk in same saucepan over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes, being careful not to boil.  Pour into serving pot with tea and stir well to combine.

– from Chai Tea With Milk, Martha Stewart Living, September 2003

If you are a fan, here’s another recipe, also really good, from Bon Appetit.

Donna Ferguson

Donna Ferguson

I love to cook, garden, and write about all the things in Vancouver and the Northwest that make life so great.

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