Spiced Chai (also Chai latte or Masala Chai as it is sometimes called) has become a modern staple of most cafes and coffee houses. This dark, spiced tea brewed with sugar and milk is one of my favorite winter drinks, making cold snowy days just a little bit more bearable. However, most cafes use processed mixes for their Chai base that often includes high-fructose corn syrup and other unsavory ingredients. Even if that’s not the case, a Chai latte at a typical cafe is often way too sweet for me. I prefer my Chai really spicy with just a hint of sweetness, a little closer to the Indian original. The price–often running upwards of $4–can also be a strong deterrent. So, I’ve started making my own Chai at home.
I will admit my first attempt was pretty unappealing. Cold, lacking in spice, and spotted with congealed honey, the unlucky friend whom I asked to test this drink could barely keep it down. (Hannah, if you’re reading this, I still am so sorry for making you drink that disgusting concoction our first year of college).
But with age, comes wisdom, and I have developed a fairly fail-proof method for making spiced Chai at home. Try mine below and let me know what you think!
Spiced Chai Latte
- Black tea (can be any kind, but I would recommend a simple English Breakfast tea loose or in bags)
- boiling water
- 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, allspice, and cloves
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
In the bottom of a teapot measure out your spices, honey, and brown sugar. You can add a little more sweetener if you like your Chai that way–I usually opt for less. You can also add an extra 1/2 tsp ginger and cinnamon if you’d like. You may want to measure out your spices in a strainer as all those spices can make the bottom of the tea gritty, but I have never minded it. I really is up to personal preference and usually only effects the very last cup.
Also place your tea–whether bagged, or loose in a strainer–in the teapot. Next, you will want to boil some water and heat up some milk. This is the only tricky bit. First of all, I never measure out the liquids, because everything depends on the size of your teapot. Ultimately you want about 1/4 water to every 3/4 milk used. I simply estimate by the size of the pot I’m using.
Secondly, when it comes to heating milk, you want to do it very slowly. Everyone reading this may already know that, but I learned the hard way and don’t want anyone else to experience the sheer terror of having his or her electric teapot explode with boiling hot milk. You want to heat your milk on the stove, bringing the temperature up very slowly using low heat and stirring frequently. Don’t let your milk boil or you will have a disgusting film on top. When the milk is ready, pour it hot right into the teapot over all the spices, sweetener, and tea. Top off with water and stir vigorously. Let steep for 2-3 minutes and enjoy! Keep in mind that all of this may need adjustment according to your taste and the size of your teapot. This beverage is fairly flexible though, so don’t be afraid to experiment!
**A quick tip if (like me) you always forget about your tea, letting it steep until it’s bitter and cold, you can use this lovely, well-designed website to help time your tea steeping. Simply pick the type of tea you’re making and Steep.it will time your tea-making appropriately. Brilliant and beautiful!