Easy Chai Recipe
A few weeks ago I made a pot of chai for the 60-plus people I anticipated would come to a cooking class I was teaching that day. That’s a lot of chai, so I pulled out my largest cooking vessel, one that could easily house a small child. When it came time to brew the tea, I realized my recipe was more complicated than I remembered. It called for several different whole spices, which I didn’t have, and involved straining the entire thing through a sieve, a feat I wasn’t sure I could manage singlehandedly. I knew it was a good recipe, but I wondered if it could be good without requiring a special trip to the market or risking bodily harm from hot liquid. And so I simplified it into an easy chai recipe. Initially for my own ease, ultimately for yours too.
What Is Chai
In India and other parts of Central Asia, chai is simply tea. In fact, the Hindi word chai translates literally to “tea”, which means all the years I was offering friends a cup of chai tea, I was actually saying, “would you like a cup of tea tea?” Here in the west, we’ve come to associate chai with an Indian preparation that is deeply spiced, milky, and pleasingly sweet, without being cloyingly so. You make it by steeping spices that can vary by region or household, but commonly include cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves.
Benefits of Tea
Cultures the world over have preached the healing properties of tea for centuries, but it’s only recently that this has been backed up by science. Black tea, from which chai is brewed, is rich in polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant. The caffeine in black tea can have upsides too, linked with greater mental focus. Just be sure to cut yourself off from the caffeine early enough in the day that it doesn’t interfere with your slumber.
Chai is Comfort
To me, chai is a cup of comfort, much like a mug of hot cocoa. And like cocoa, anything that comes from a box, carton, or store-bought mix can’t hold a candle to one you make yourself. Lately, it’s been my go-to brew when real comfort is in order, whether it’s one of my girls under the weather or a friend suffering a loss. A glass jug filled with homemade chai delivered to a doorstep is love in a jar, if you ask me.
An Easy Chai Recipe
Making chai isn’t tricky, it just requires a handful of spices and a bit of patience. Here’s the step-by-step tutorial (with an easy chai recipe below).
Chai: Step One
Combine thinly sliced fresh ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and vanilla, along with honey and sugar in 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for five minutes.
Remove from heat, add four black tea bags, and steep for 10 minutes.
Scoop out the tea bags, ginger slices, and cinnamon stick.
Add two cups of milk. I prefer whole or two percent milk here, since a little richness goes a long way. You can also use plant milk. My preferred one is a blend of almond and coconut milk.
Gently heat the tea to your liking, pour into mugs, and savor every sip.
If you like this easy chai recipe, you might like:
Easy Chai Recipe
Chai, a milky, deeply spiced, and lightly sweetened tea, is a comforting brew if ever there was one. Simply steep ginger and spices with black tea, honey, and sugar, add milk, and pour.
- One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, unpeeled, thinly sliced
- 1-2 tablespoons sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 cups water
- 4 black tea bags, such as Assam or English Breakfast
- 2 cups 2 percent or whole milk (use coconut, coconut/almond milk, or oat for a plant-based version)
Put the ginger, 1 tbsp each sugar and honey, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and water into a small saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and add the tea bags. Steep for 10 minutes.
Scoop the ginger and cinnamon out of the tea and add the milk. Taste and add more honey/sugar if desired. Warm on the stove and serve. Store leftover chai in the fridge, where it will be tasty for up to 5 days