Masala Chai is spiced and sweetened milk tea. It is mostly associated with India but until the 1900s the spicy mix generally did not contain black tea. In India it is available at every market all year round but for me Chai is a seasonal drink that starts in late October and continues through winter. Its spicy malty heat is perfect for cold winter days.
There are several ways to brew chai – milk only, milk and water, ground spices, whole spices etc. The list of spices varies greatly but black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves seem to always form the foundation. Below is the recipe that I use with some of the health benefits of the spices. This is customised to my own preference for spiciness/sweetness – experimentation is needed to make your own version of Masala Chai.
- ½ cinnamon stick [warms the body and enhances digestion, especially the metabolism of fats]
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 7 whole cardamom pods bruised with pestle and mortar [stimulates digestion]
- 7 whole cloves [antiseptic and anti-parasitic properties and digestive aid]
- 7 thin slices of fresh ginger [colon cleansing, stimulates circulation, protects the liver and stomach]
- 10 black peppercorns, ground
- ½ tsp. grated nutmeg
- 2 cups water
- 2 tbsp. honey [natural antiseptic, promotes energy and healing]
- 1 tbsp. assam (or other strong black tea)
- 1 cup low-fat milk
Put spices and water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for a further 5-10 minutes. Add honey and return to the heat again to bring to a boil.
Add tea leaves, remove from heat and set aside for 3 to 5 minutes. Strain through a sieve and then add milk. Heat the full mixture over low heat then serve immediately and enjoy!