Warm Up With Chai Tea

Reader Contribution by Lori Havens
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This recipe comes from my friend, Rittu, who grew up in India. The first time I was there when she made it, I asked her what smelled sooooo good in her kitchen, and she said “it’s chai tea … would you like a cup?” No thanks, I said. I don’t really care for chai tea. She just smiled. “Have a cup of mine, I’ll bet you’ll like it.” Not wanting to be rude, I agreed to try it, but didn’t think I’d like it any better than the mixes I’d purchased before.

Ha ha! Oh, did I eat my words! Actually, I drank my words! That was some fantastic tea!!! That was many years ago, and later, during a weekend getaway trip to Wisconsin with Rittu, her husband, and their two children, I finally paid attention as she made her nightly brew, and now enjoy making it here at my home. I’ve had a few bloggy friends discussing chai, and offered to share the recipe (as best as I can … Rittu doesn’t really measure).

Rittu’s Indian Chai Tea

Purchase/Have on hand: Cardomom pods, Fennel seeds, honey, black tea, milk (I use 2%).

The Process:
***First, put some water in your kettle and start it to boiling. You may want to add a bit of boiling water to your chai mix if you’re losing too much in steam in the beginning! This is EXTRA water, it’s not the water you put in the pan to start.***

Now, on with making Chai:
I’m using my almost 2-quart pot here, and have added 4 cups water. In it, place 5 or 6 cardamom pods that you have cracked to expose the small, black seeds. (Sometimes they crack with finger pressure, but often times I have to use my kitchen scissors to get them to break.)

Also add whole fennel seeds … I don’t count them, just add a couple/few big pinches … this is about two pinches in my palm, I ended up adding one more pinch to the pot:

Bring the water with pods and seeds to a boil, and let it boil until the water gets “nice and green” (that’s Rittu’s husband, Wendall’s, instruction!). I let it boil about 5 minutes. I will add some boiling H2O from the kettle if I feel I’m losing too much water in steam. The key from here on out is to KEEP IT BOILING! Here’s a “before” and “after” of the water, to see the color:

It will be nice and fragrant now! Keep it boiling, and add 1 teaspoon fresh honey per cup/mug that you’re making … I added 4 teaspoons honey (you could use sugar … but honey is better and healthier!).

Stir it in, KEEP IT BOILING! Let it boil about 3 minutes to really “cook” the honey flavor in.

Next, add BLACK TEA. You can use decaf black tea if you don’t want the “perkys.” I use 2 bags … be sure to cut off the paper tags before putting it in the water!

Keep it boiling for about 3 minutes…

Now, add milk (I use 2%), just to get it about the color of a caramel:

Let it return to a boil, and keep it boiling for a few minutes until the milk scalds (I call it that “brownish sticky stuff on the side of the pan”).

The rest of this, in pictures, should be self-explanatory:

*NOTE: Pre-warmed serving tea pot … your homemade chai tea is special … BE fussy!!!

Keeping warm under the tea cozy…

One thing I want to try for fun someday is to make this with my favorite black tea blend, Earl Grey tea. I think the bergamot, which reminds me of orange, would be out of this world in Chai!

I hope you enjoy making and drinking this delicious chai tea. It only takes 5 to 10 minutes to make, and it will warm you on the outside as you make it, delightfully fragrance your kitchen, and then it will warm you on the inside and lift your spirits as you drink it.

Stay warm!