Masala Chai is a lovely ritual to add to your routine. For me, it’s the most rejuvenating way to start a cold January morning as aromatic and warming spices simmer on my stove. Ultimately, every household has their own spice variations, which gives this beverage its distinctly fragrant depth. For some, there’s a heavy emphasis on cinnamon, some like the medicinal quality of cloves, and others like it with lighter notes of fennel and cardamom. Then there’s the addition of fat. Traditionally, Masala Chai is made with a hefty dose of milk, which boils away with spices, water and black tea— making it more concentrated and rich for those who like that creamy mouthfeel. For those who prefer a vegan option, nut milks and creamers are always good alternatives.
My recipe is more like the traditional version, though not as heavy on the milk or sugar. Like several households, I enjoy intense amounts of cardamom as it adds a lightness and giddiness to each sip— and who can say no to that sensation? Then, there’s the ginger and black pepper to warm me from within, and, if I feel like I am coming down with something, I add a pinch of turmeric powder. Since I make this first thing in the morning, I am too lazy to deal with loose leaf tea— no matter how good your strainer, pesky tea curls always end up in the cup and clean-up becomes that much more demanding. If you’re a Chai loyalist, go ahead and add a tablespoon of loose leaf tea. But if you’re like me, throw in a couple of tea bags— it still does the trick!
Nothing says good morning with a warm hug as affectionately as my Masala Chai.
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup of milk
- 2 tea bags
- Sugar to taste
- 1 thumb-sized piece of unpeeled ginger
- 8 cardamom pods
- 2” piece of cinnamon
- 4-6 black peppercorns
1) Bring water, spices and ginger to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.
2) Add the milk and tea bags.
3) Once you add the milk, the drink will come up the sides— just stir it with a metal spoon and remove from heat after 2 minutes.
* Feel free to keep any leftovers and throw the boiled spice mixture back into the pot so it can continue to steep. Once it has cooled, store in a mason jar and refrigerate for tomorrow’s cup.