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Two Ways to Make Traditional Chai Tea

Traditional Chai Tea Ingredients

It’s chai time, and I’m about to make some of my favorite tea.

Would you like some?

With half of my family from North India, I’m fairly accustomed to the ritual of drinking chai. Not the frothy, ultra-sweet, flavored-milk drink you get from national coffee chains. I mean real chai, made from raw ingredients, and crafted to suit the individual’s preference. And it never fails to surprise me how varied people’s tastes can be.

Take my mom and my aunt, for example. They grew up in the same family, with the same Punjabi mother who brought them each a mug of steaming tea in the morning. Nowadays, my mom likes a rich chai made from strong tea, organic non-homogenized whole milk, and organic cardamom (and sometimes clove, ajwain, and/or fresh ginger) for spice. My aunt, on the other hand, prefers a light chai, made from very little black tea, soymilk, fennel, and a bit of honey -- a great option for those needing to limit dairy or caffeine.

Ladies Sip Traditional Indian Chai Tea at Home

So what happens at family dinners when my mom’s tea is too strong for my aunt, and my aunt’s tea is too weak for my mom? Of course my brother, cousins, dad, uncle, and grandparents all have different favorite combos too. And no one is about to budge because who wants to compromise when it comes to tea?

Chai Tea Brewing in Pot with Milk

What all of my family can agree on is the power of organic loose-leaf tea as a critical ingredient for a high-quality experience. My mom, a longtime chai drinker says she notices that organic loose-leaf black tea has a fuller flavor and doesn’t leave an acidic bitter taste on the tongue. While some people prefer to use a masala chai (premixed black tea and spices, often finely ground), both my mom and aunt make their own fresh masalas ("masala" essentially means "blend" or "mixture") every time they make tea. This way, they can adjust the ingredients based on the time of day, the season, and who else will be drinking (hint hint, I’m a regular!).

Straining Chai Tea

Mom’s Indian Chai Recipe

Ingredients

Directions

Bring the first six ingredients to a boil in a pot over medium heat. After this liquid comes to a boil, turn off heat and add tea leaves. Steep 5-10 minutes, with lid. Add sweetener if desired. If you don’t have cardamom powder on hand, you can also take hulled cardamom or cardamom pods and grind them using a mortar and pestle. Strain tea using a mesh strainer before pouring. Makes three large mugs.

 

Making Chai Tea at Home

Aunt’s Indian Chai Recipe

Ingredients

Directions

Bring water and fennel seeds to a boil. Let steep on low for 5 minutes. Add Ceylon Tea and skim milk and bring to a gentle boil. Once milk has boiled, turn off heat and add Darjeeling Tea or Assam. Steep tea anywhere from 6-10 minutes, without lid. Using a mesh strainer, pour tea into a large mug, leaving room at the top. Add a tablespoon or more of soymilk, and stir in honey to your preferred sweetness. If you like your tea very hot, you may also want to reheat again. Makes two large mugs.

*We are currently out of fennel seeds right now but we hope to have them back in April. In the meanwhile, you can experiment with other herbs you like. Remember, there is no one right way to make chai. Make it how you like it!

The truth is, making chai isn't just about drinking tea. It’s about sharing quality time with people I care about, or even people I just met. And when I’m alone, chai time is my mode of relaxation, when I can contemplate how grateful I am for the ones I love and all they've given me.  

 

Looking for more ways to make your own tea blends? Try our recipe for Golden Coconut Chai!


Chai Tea In Glass Tea Pot

 

Topics: All Recipes, Tea Recipes

Ek Ongkar Khalsa

Written by Ek Ongkar Khalsa on February 15, 2017

Ek Ongkar, Marketing Coordinator, is our social media and content strategist. Born and raised in Eugene, Oregon, she’s no stranger to the ancient Indian wellness philosophy of Ayurveda. You can often find her sipping chai, taking long walks on local woodland trails, and doing origami.