I knew that I had posted “my” chai recipe at some point in the past, but when I found it, I discovered that it was an old version. Time to update it, especially since as I’ve been getting more and more requests for the recipe of late. Something about cold weather.
The single biggest difference between the version I posted before and this one is that I’ve been using rooibos (aka redbush) tea for the last several years. This started because I was making it for a bunch of yoga practitioners, some of whom had sworn off caffeine. The unexpected benefit was that 1) rooibos is very tasty, and 2) unlike black tea, rooibos doesn’t get bitter if you steep it more than a couple of minutes. This means it’s possible to steep it for a long time and make a strong tea that stands up well to milk or milk-analogues.
Also, you can have it in the evening and still expect to get to sleep.
Since I sometimes make huge batches for 20 or 30 people over a weekend, but mostly batches to last Anne and I a week, this recipe is more concerned with proportion than amount (hence quantities below denoted as 4x or 2x, rather than 4T or whatever). Starting out, if you’re working with a gallon of water, x = 1 heaping tablespoon. If you’re working with a quart of water, x = 1 heaping teaspoon. Over time you’ll probably discover that you prefer certain things to be a little stronger and others to be a little weaker. I rarely even measure anymore, I just eyeball it. So don’t worry about it too much.
4x loose rooibos tea
4x peeled and sliced ginger
3x whole cardamom, crushed
3x cinnamon, crushed
2x whole cloves
2x black peppercorns, crushed
1x star anise, crushed
For the vanilla bean I use about half a bean for a gallon of chai.
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a pot appropriate to the amount of water you’re using. Put a top on it, and turn down low enough that it’s just simmering, and let simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off heat, and if possible, leave it to steep overnight with the cover on. Filter and store.
I generally use this in equal proportion with milk, frothing it with the steam wand on my espresso machine—the frothiness is a nice complement. It works just as well if you whisk it in a pot as you heat it up, it’s just more work. I’ve drunk it with cow’s milk, almond milk and soy milk, all of which go well with it.