I was introduced to proper Chai from my buddy Alif, a half Indian, half Kenyan and all handsome kind of guy. We were nursing a brutal hangover and he went into the kitchen and emerged with this steaming cup of joy. He smiled as he handed me the cup and simply smiled. After the haze had lifted he went about showing me how to make the stuff. The thing about Chai is that it differs from region to region and even from house to house. It is kind of like red sauce in Italy or stuffing in the states. So this is Johnny’s take on how to blend your own Chai at home.
Now I am the kind of guy that likes to make a concentrate and then mix it with milk and that is what I am going to show you how to do. However, if you just want to make a loose leaf tea and brew it in water I will let you know how to do that too. Now the thing about Chai is that it will only be as good as the spices that you put into it so you want to try and get your hands on the freshest ones that you can. The other thing that you need to know is that your Chai will be different from anyone else’s. Take great solace in this fact. It is yours because you created it. Mine differs from batch to batch as I may be feeling a little more anise on the day I make it or I may be leaning toward a more cinnamon flavor. You can’t really go too awry. Just have fun playing with the process.
Blending Chai to the tune of “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver
7ish star anise pods
2ish cinnamon sticks broken
12-15ish dried cloves
10-12ish cardamom pods
Tsp ish of whole peppercorns
3 tbsp full leaf Ceylon tea
1 heaping tbsp of honey
1 tsp of vanilla
2 pints of water
-Toss all of you spices into a frying pan and dry toast them over medium heat. Your house will start to smell super good that is when you remove them from the heat. You have to watch them as they will burn if you don’t.
-If you are making loose leaf tea, put the toasted spices into a coffee grinder and give them a buzz. Add your tea, mix everything up and you are done. Brew it like you would any other loose leaf tea.
-If you are making the concentrate, bring the water to a boil in a small sauce pan and then and your spices and all of the other ingredients except the tea. Let it cook down so it reduces by half. Remove it from the heat.
-Strain out the spices and then brew your tea in the concentrate using a tea ball or a tea strainer.
-Toss it into a jar and refrigerate it. Done, you now have Chai concentrate. Add an oz for every 8oz of milk and heat up on the stove. There you have it.