There’s nothing like a really good cup of masala spiced chai tea to warm up your heart and your body on a chilly day. The fiery blend of seasonings combined with the sweet smoothness of vanilla and milk make chai tea a drink people all over the world revere.
During a Diwali celebration about a decade ago, a dear friend’s mom spoiled me by making me the best masala chai tea I’ve ever had. Such incredible deliciousness has made me a bit of a “chai snob,” I have to say.
So, in the quest to make something just as spicy, creamy and wonderful at home, I’ve tried just about every chai tea concentrate and teabag available on the Western market. And honestly, virtually all of the masala chai you can buy in American coffee shops and grocery stores taste bland and watery, often with far too much sugar in them to make up for the lack of flavor.
But then, most processed and packaged foods come up short compared to their traditional, homemade counterparts.
That’s why I asked my friend Nahid, an Ayurvedic nutritionist, for her favorite traditional masala chai recipe, so I could finally have the authentic tea that I fell in love with so many years ago, right in my own home.
I was not disappointed, and I know you won’t be either…
- 8 tsps. rooibos tea (or use black tea)
- 15 allspice berries
- 12 black peppercorns
- 8 whole cloves
- 5 green cardamom pods
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 1 star anise
- 1 inch fresh ginger peeled and grated
- 1 vanilla bean
- 5 cups purified water
- small muslin bag cheesecloth or fine mess strainer
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar or 1/4 cup raw honey, if desired, to taste
- Crack the allspice, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom and anise with the back of a large knife.
- Toast the spices in a dry skillet or on a baking sheet for about 5 minutes, or until very fragrant.
- Place the toasted spices plus all the remaining ingredients, including the tea, into a small muslin bag or cheesecloth tied up. Or add loose and be prepared to strain the tea later.
- Boil the purified water. Add the spice/tea mixture, ginger, cinnamon sticks and vanilla. Turn the burner down to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes until reduced by about one cup.
- Remove the muslin bag/cheesecloth or strain the tea through a fine mesh strainer.
- Stir in the sugar or honey until completely dissolved.
- Makes about one quart. The concentrate will stay fresh in the fridge for up to one week.
- When ready to drink, gently simmer one part chai concentrate with one part organic whole milk, full-fat nut milk or full-fat coconut milk until hot.