Chai means tea in Hindi, and Masala is the word used for dry spices, or spice mixture, ground into a paste or powder. This tea is a staple in India. There are many, many variations of this famous tea. It's made by boiling black tea in milk and water, adding a mixture of spices. Different regions in India, have their own variations on the spices. In most cases, Jaggery is used to sweeten the Chai. Jaggery is a natural form of sugar. It can be found at your local Indian market.
TO MAKE A BATCH OF MASALA FOR CHAI YOU WILL NEED:
Cloves - 1/4 cup - have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties
Green Cardamom (in the pods preferably) - 1/4 cup - have antioxidants, digestive aid
Black Peppercorns - 1/4 cup - have anti-inflammatory properties, digestive aid
Fennel Seeds - 1 tablespoon - digestive aid, have a calming effect, add a cooling taste to the tea (optional)
Cinnamon - 6 inch stick - helps stabilize blood sugar, adds a sweetness and warmth to the tea
Ginger - 2 inches - anti-inflammatory, helps with digestion and builds immunity, adds a warmth to the tea
Nutmeg - 1 grated - natural pain reliever, helps balance digestion and blood circulation, adds warmth to the tea
Fresh spices will give better flavor to the tea. You can experiment with star anise and saffron.
Making a batch of masala is ideal. Then you can store it in a clean, air tight jar, and use it as you need. However, you can make a fresh batch of masala each time you make the tea. If you have a mortar and pestle, great! Use that to grind the spices together. They can be roughly crushed. If not a blender works too, but be careful not to turn in into a powder. Infusing your love into the masala is key. If you grind the spices by hand, the tea will be infused with your good vibes. Use a grater to grate the nutmeg. Don't put the nutmeg in blender. If you are using fresh ginger, keep this aside until you actually make the tea. Don't mix fresh ginger into the masala, only mix into masala if you are using dry ginger. Fresh ginger will be added when you are making the actual tea.
It's best not to make too much chai masala. Having freshly made chai masala definitely enhances the flavor.
TIP: If you do end up making the blending the masala into a powder, it can be used for baking! Chai cookies are delicious! BTW...if the masala does end up in a powder, you can still use it for making Chai. The flavor of powdered masala and coarsely ground masala is different...that's all.
Making the tea:
Using a heavy-bottomed pan, take the masala and dry roast on a low flame until it becomes aromatic. The amount of masala you need will depend on how much tea you are making. Then add milk, tea, and ginger and bring to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes. Strain and serve. The sweetener can be added to the pot or to the individual cup.
For a single serving of Chai you will need:
Roughly 2 tsp of Masala mix
A good quality black tea. It can be loose or in a tea bag. 1 tea bag or a tsp of loose tea.
Fresh ginger, if you didn't add dry ginger to your masala. Add 2 thin slices, if you like it a bit stronger adjust to your liking.
Milk of your choice 1-2 cups. In India they use cows milk. I have made it with oat milk, cashew milk, or macadamia milk and its really tasty!
Sweetener of your choice. This tea is also great unsweetened! Sweet does balance out the spices, so it's really up to you.
Typically this tea is made with milk. Milk alternatives work well. You can use equal parts of milk and water if you'd like. This tea is very forgiving and there's a lot of room for adapting it to your personal preference.
If you want to whip up a Chai for yourself you will need:
1/2 cinnamon stick
5-7 Green Cardamom pods, you can use Black Cardamom if you don't have green
3-5 whole cloves
5-6 whole peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds
Fresh or dry ginger
Again, there's a lot of space for you to adjust the quantity of spices. For example, cloves are strong so less may be better for you. Black pepper can be too heating for some people, so adjust to your body type.
Follow the rest of the instructions above.
Happy experimenting!!! This tea is easy to make once you get the hang of it , and have figured out the right balance of spices, tea, and milk that work for you and your crowd.