Where we live, the weather is beginning to get colder and the sky is dark before I even leave the office for the day. Winter is fast approaching, and these are the evenings when I just can’t wait to get home, get comfy, and fix myself a mug of something hot… enter masala chai!
Masala chai is a spiced milky tea served hot and a little bit sweet. The recipe comes from India. “Chai” essentially just means tea, and “masala” is a blend of spices. I absolutely love this drink during cold weather, but I find the “chai latte” versions sold at coffee shops and in commercial mixes to be a little bit too sweet and not spicy enough. Lucky for me (and you), it’s really easy to brew this up at home. Once you stock up on the right spices, you can whip up a batch of the spice blend, pack it in a jar, and use it to make tea all winter long!
There are many different variations on this spice blend, but almost all include black pepper, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. I also include nutmeg in my version but there are many other flavors you can add, like anise or even vanilla. The photo above shows the spices I use in this recipe, with some loose leaf black tea in the center (clockwise from top right: black peppercorns, whole cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg).
In addition to these spices you will also need some basic black tea (loose or in bags, either will do!), whole milk, water, and a bit of sugar.
In a spice grinder combine:
– 1 1/2 tbsp black peppercorns
– 1 tbsp ground ginger
– 1 heaping tsp cardamom
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1/4 tsp nutmeg
– 6 – 8 cloves
Grind your spices up until you get a fine powder. Thats your chai masala! For one serving of chai, combine 1/2 cup of whole milk with 1/2 cup of water, and place in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 teaspoon of your spice mixture and bring to a low boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low, cover, and let simmer for about 10 minutes. (If you own milk frother, this is the perfect time to use it to get that signature “latte” foam!)
Next, place one teaspoon of loose tea or 1 teabag into a mug and pour the hot milk mixture on top. Let the tea steep for about 5 minutes, then strain or remove your tea bag. Sweeten to taste with a spoonful of sugar, and enjoy!
The rich, exotic aroma of this tea combined with the kick from the black pepper is a perfect pick-me-up after a long day or a great way to start a rainy weekend morning. I encourage you to give it a try and to make the spice blend your own! Once you arrive at the perfect ratio, a little jar of chai masala could even make a lovely gift for a friend!