Around this time of year I welcome warm beverages, earth tones, and the smell of spicy cinnamon. It’s fall, and today I had my first Chai tea latte of the season. I cupped it tightly in my hands, and as I stepped outside the Mascot on Queen Street the mix of Indian spices and brisk September air brought a smile to my face.
As nice as it is to treat yourself to a tall Chai latte, it’s not always the most economical, nor the most convenient way to satisfy your craving for this delicious, spicy beverage. When I arrived home today I started to read more about how to make your own Chai, and discovered it’s not that difficult at all!
Chai is a ubiquitous drink in India. It is made across the country and is drunk both at home and at tiny tea stalls everywhere. Interestingly, this beverage that so many people associate with India was actually not consumed until the time of the British Raj. India grew a large amount of tea in areas such as Assam and Darjeeling, however the majority of Indians consumed coffee. The British East India Company became concerned as they realized they were losing a vast source of income to the Chinese, who had a virtual monopoly on tea sales. Thus, the East India Company began promoting tea to Indians. At first, the Indians were skeptical, and did not want to abandon their strongly flavored coffee. But eventually someone added strongly flavored spices to a sweet and milky tea and masala chai took off! The chai is sweet and spicy with a subtle burn at the back of the throat. It is, in a word, wonderful. [source]
I was inspired to whip up a batch myself, and the result was a strong spicy, warming tea that I could sip on all night. Here is the recipe I followed, with a few minor adjustments I would change for next time.
Chai Masala Mixture
1 cup + 3 Tbsp black pepper, finely ground
3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp ginger powder, finely ground
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp cinnamon powder, finely ground
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp ground cardamom, finely ground
1 tsp garam masala, finely ground
2 tsp clove powder, finely ground (I would just do a pinch)
2 tsp nutmeg powder, finely ground (pinch)
*combine all spices and reserve for later. This recipe obviously makes a lot of the Chai mixture, you can save it and have it ready for the next batch of tea you make!