gluten free, dairy free, caffeine free \
I've recently become one of those "bores" who has ditched caffeinated coffee as I love it, but it just doesn't love me back. I found out I have some genetic weirdness in the COMT gene that means I don't break down certain stress hormones properly. So, coffee sends me crazy. As a swiss decaf coffee drinker, I've opened myself up to ridicule from coffee snobs and lived to tell the tale 😉
So, in the quest for delicious caffeine-free drinks, I've been making this Chai tea every day and it has more than filled the gap for an enjoyable hot, sweet drink.
Since I'm not a coffee snob anymore, I'm now a cinnamon snob. I much prefer Ceylon cinnamon as I prefer the softer, more subtle flavour compared to cassia cinnamon (the cheaper variety).
Chai tea is the perfect warming winter drink that won't have you bouncing off the walls before bedtime. It can also be made in to an iced chai tea (hello northern hemisphere summer!) and makes a lovely heartfelt gift.
This Masala Chai tea is designed to be brewed in the traditional way, on the stove in a saucepan. For extra depth of flavour, each serve can be prepared overnight or earlier in the day before serving. It is best when it has been brewed for a minimum of 20-30 minutes - this isn't a quick drink! Enjoy the process of making this tea and you will be rewarded.
Without further ado, here is the recipe for the Masala Chai tea blend. Please see the first point below under Instructions, as the type of cinnamon used will dictate how you prepare the mix. Don't fear, this is a very easy recipe that makes many servings.
Masala Chai Tea blend
- 50 g Ceylon cinnamon sticks 15 x 7cm sticks
- 30 g green cardamom pods about 5 1/2 US tablespoons or 4 AU tablespoons
- 34 g dried ginger about 3 1/4 US tablespoons or 2 1/2 AU tablespoons
- 10 g clove buds a little under 2 US tablespoons or 1 1/2 AU tablespoons
- Optional: 5g black peppercorns 2 teaspoons
- Method for blending
- For Cinnamon zeylanicum/Cinnamomum verum (Ceylon cinnamon from Sri Lanka or India), cut each stick with kitchen shears in to 3mm wide pieces. The pieces will break up a bit smaller in some cases and this does require elbow grease but works better for this type of cinnamon than the mallet method (the mallet method for this type of cinnamon produces long pieces of cinnamon that affect the ability to blend the chai mix and measure it out properly for each serve).
- For Cinnamomum cassia, Cinnamomum loureirri or Cinnamomum burmanii (these are variously from China, Indonesia or Vietnam), put the cinnamon in a zip lock bag with the measured cardamom pods, close tightly, place on a wooden board (or similar) and break up the sticks with a mallet until they are smaller. Give the cardamom pods some hits as well, this helps to extract as much flavour from those as possible.Then move to Step 3.
- Put the cardamom pods in a ziplock bag, close tightly placed on a wooden board (or similar) and give each one a whack to try to open - this gives more flavour. Not all will open, that's OK.
- Measure out the remaining ingredients and place in either a large glass jar or a ziplock bag to thoroughly blend. Your mix is now ready to enjoy! You can store in the glass jar or the ziplock bag (will probably stay fresher in the glass jar).
- To prepare the tea
- There are two ways to prepare the chai. One gives more depth of flavour and requires some forward planning and the second works for when you just want that chai tea sooner.
- Pre-prepared Chai. Shake the chai mixture and then measure out 1 tablespoon chai blend. Place in a saucepan over high heat with 2 cups of water (water will evaporate so there will be about 1 cup of water left when ready to serve). Bring to a boil, remove from the heat and set aside to leave for few hours or overnight.When ready to serve (eg.the next morning), heat on high until boiling, let boil for a few minutes, add 2-3tbsp milk (coconut for example) and honey, bring to the boil again and remove from the heat. Strain into a mug and serve immediately. If you prefer a creamier chai, then either evaporate more water before adding the milk or add a bit less water in the first part of the preparation.
- For Chai-right-now. Place 2 cups of water in a saucepan with 1 tablespoon of the chai blend and bring to a boil. Remove the lid but keep the temperature the same for 20 minutes while it brews. Add some milk (e. 1-3 tablespoons) and honey, put the lid on to bring to a boil again, then remove from the heat straight away once it starts boiling. Strain the mixture in to a mug or teacup and serve immediately. If you prefer a creamier chai, then either evaporate more water before adding the milk or add a bit less water in the first part of the preparation.
- Iced Chai To make iced chai: Prepare the chai using one of the above methods, then either chill in the fridge for a few hours (or overnight) or put in the freezer for 1/2 hour. Don't use an insulated mug or thermos to do this or it will take forever to cool.
- Equipment: Mallet, wooden chopping board, kitchen shears, large ziplock bag, glass jar for storing
- To make the tea: saucepan, measuring spoons, sieve