Friday, October 22, 2010

Masala Chai

I've been on a bit of a Chai kick as of late. I blame Mindy, a friend whose family we stayed with at the beach this past summer. She shared a very yummy Chai that started a bit of an obsession. I really enjoy her recipe, but wondered what else was out there...

I scoured the internet finding recipes that I could try to see which was the best. The first couple recipes have yielded mediocre (at best) teas. One even tasted a bit like what I would guess dish water would taste like. I was about to give up, but decided this morning I would try one last recipe that sounded promising.

It starts off with creating a bouquet garni, which is just your own spice blend tied up in a cheese cloth. The recipe called for grated fresh ginger, hence the porcelain grater in the background. I hear microplanes or even the small holes on a box grater both do a good job of grating fresh ginger if you don't have this crazy tool.

All tied up and ready to drop into 5 c. of water:

While bringing my spice blend and water to a boil, I got the 1/4 c. of tea ready. I don't have any loose leaf tea, so I opened a lot of tea bags. Nine, to be exact. It about got me to about a 1/4 cup.

I added the tea to the pot, and steeped it for 15 minutes. This seemed quite a long time to steep it, but I went with it. I mean, the name of the recipe is "The Perfect Chai Tea", right?

While it was steeping, I got my mesh strainer ready.

And my honey ready. Mmmm... honey.

I strained out all the tea leaves, rinsed out my pot, then re-strained it as I poured it back into the pot.

I added 3 c. of milk, the vanilla and the honey and voila. Masala Chai!

Time to taste...

And the verdict: While I am by no means a Chai expert, I find that it still isn't even in the same arena as Mindy's Chai. The 1 tsp. of vanilla adds a little too much vanilla flavor for my taste and the flavors of the spice blend are kind of lost.  I also miss the cardamom flavor that I get in Mindy's tea. And it's a lot of work. Put a fork in me, I'm done and Mindy's tea wins.

Masala Chai
  • 2 t. grated ginger root
  • 1 t. grated orange peel
  • 1 whole star anise (broken up)
  • 4 pieces cinnamon bark (about 1.5 inches)
  • 1 t. cardamom seeds
  • 5 whole peppercorns
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 5 c. water
  • 1/4 c. black tea leaves (Darjeeling and Assam work well)
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 3 c. milk
You’ll also need:
  • Medium pot
  • Cheesecloth and string (or empty teabags)
  • Strainer
  1. Using your cheesecloth, put together a bouquet garni. Include everything except the liquid ingredients and the tea in your bouqet garni. 
  2. Place the bouquet garni into a pot with 5 c. water. Bring to a low boil, lower the heat and keep it at a simmer.
  3. Add tea leaves and continue simmering for 15 minutes.
  4. Pluck out the spices using a spoon or tongs. 
  5. Strain out tea leaves.
  6. Add the milk, honey and vanilla and serve. If serving cold, pour over ice. 
This recipe makes about eight one-cup servings.
Source: The Perfect Chai Tea 


  1. Ok, so I would like Mindy's recipe! (And as a sidenote, I thought this chai recipe tasted like warm me crazy).

  2. My favorite part was that kitchen was cleaned up afterward :P

  3. Cindy - Crazy. :) But I did toss out all the rest.

    Nate - Just getting you ready to clean up from dinner. ;P

  4. Your pictures look awesome. I especially like the Honey :)