||[Aug. 2nd, 2006|08:52 am]
Chai Tea Lovers: Addicted and Proud
I've enjoyed chai for years now, I've tried the chai at a coffee house or two (Panera's, Starbucks) but much prefer to make my own. Here's my recipe if anyone is interested...
2 cups water
2 cups milk
3 Tbl. loose black tea
Sugar/sweetener to taste
1 heaping tsp. masala chai powder
Put it all in a 2 qt saucepan and heat over medium-low until it comes up to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain (perhaps into a warmed thermos) and enjoy.
ABOUT THE MILK: You can vary the ratio of water to milk (and the milkfat content) to suit your tastes. 50:50 water:2% milk works well for me: just creamy enough, but no *so* creamy that the tea flavor doesn't infuse well. Lately I've been using nonfat dried milk powder instead of fresh milk. It's convenient, cheap, and with all of the spices and tea, tastes about the same to me as fresh (I do the same thing with my homemade spiced hot chocolate). I will put all of the dry ingredients, including about a heaping 1/2 cup of dry milk in the sauce pan the night before, then in the morning all I have to do is add about 4 cups water (i.e. fill up my 2 qt pan half-way) and start her simmering.
ABOUT THE TEA: The black tea can be about anything...assam, darjeeling, ceylon, keemun, yunnan, any of the British blends, etc. Just stay away from flavored/scented teas like Earl Grey. BTW, you can get some decent CTC assam dirt-cheap at an Indian grocer.
ABOUT THE SWEET: You can use your choice of sweetener. I have used white sugar and splenda, but a more unrefined sugar lends an interesting complexity to the flavor of the finished chai. Currently I am using jaggery (3 Tbl. in the above recipe), which is an unrefined palm sugar and comes in a big ugly lump at the Indian grocer. Experiment with different raw sugars or natural syrup-style sweeteners (agave, rice, barley malt, honey) for variety.
ABOUT THE SPICE: I buy the masala chai powder from my local Indian grocer (as I cook a lot of Indian food, I'm over there quite frequently). Most masala chai powders contain ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, with maybe some star anise or mace. I have made my own masala in the past (after all, it's hard to beat a fresh ground masala!), but the kind I find at the Indian grocer is quite good and convenient. I could dig up my recipe and post it if you wish.