Tip: The word “chai” means “tea” in Hindi, so saying chai tea is redundant. Chai with spices like those I recommend below is typically called “masala chai,” but I have always just called it chai.
Making chai for me is a calming ritual, a source of comfort, and a reminder of the many trips I took every couple of years when I was younger to visit my grandparents in India. No matter what we did – visit with family and friends, go shopping, or travel to different places within the country – chai was always involved.
This is the chai recipe I learned from my mom, with the black pepper added by me to give it a little more zing. If you don’t like a particular spice, you can omit it, except for cardamom, which is a must.
*This recipe is for two cups. I like to make a big pot and store any that’s left in the fridge to reheat the next day, so I typically double the recipe.
- 2 heaping tablespoons of loose leaf Assam tea
- 8 green cardamom pods
- About ¼ – ½ inch fresh ginger root, depending on how much you like ginger
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6-8 whole cloves
- 8-10 black peppercorns
- 16 oz water
- 8 oz milk of choice
- Sugar to taste
- Add water to a pot on the stove.
- Grind the cardamom and ginger using a mortar and pestle or other grinder. Add them and the other spices to the water and heat to a boil.
- Once the mixture boils, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add milk and increase the heat. Watch the pot carefully because milk will boil over and make a mess, and take the pot off the heat just before the mixture boils.
- Add tea and cover to let steep for 5 minutes.
- Strain and serve with sugar to taste.