For me, the best chai comes from a couple south Indian restaurants, Dasaprakash and Saravana Bhavan. (I’m usually disappointed by the Americanized café take on this drink: too bland or too cloying.) This recipe is certainly not perfect, but it’s a start. Use a full flavored, fermented black tea like Assam, Ceylon or English Breakfast. Perhaps missing a particular spice? Or too many? Or maybe one needs to use evaporated milk and/or extra rich milk. 😉
- 2 cups water, bottled or filtered
- 1 cinnamon stick, about 2 inches long
- 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cardamom (or 1 tablespoon crushed green cardamom pods)
- 6 black peppercorns
- 4 to 6 cloves
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder (or 3/4 inch thickly cut fresh ginger)
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds (or star anise might work)
- (optional) 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- (optional) 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 cups milk
- 3 teaspoons black tea (or 3 tea bags)
- In a saucepot, add all spices to the water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for at least 5 minutes.
- Add the tea and turn off the heat. Let steep for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the milk. Bring to a boil again, uncovered, for at least 5 minutes.
- Pour the chai using a strainer into mugs.
- Sit back, sip, and contemplate infinity.