In the spirit of my first travel essay — How I Learned to Navigate India Through Its Obsession with Chai — getting published by Paste this week, I decided to include my own recipe for chai.
In India, chai is foremost a gesture of hospitality (though sometimes it’s more complicated than that). Though strains of the basic recipe appear everywhere, each home or chai wallah — tea vendor — makes it differently, adding his or her own personal touch.
Here’s how I do it.
Step 1: Boil
Combine the following spices in a sauce pan and boil in 4 cups of water:
3/4 tsp cinnamon
2 star anise
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cardamom
Step 2: Steep
Add 2 tsp black tea(bagged) and steep. I tend to like my tea on the strong side, so I leave the bags in until it’s a rich auburn color.
Step 3: Chiiiiiiill
Once the tea reaches a palatable temperature, top it off with 1/4 cup condensed milk. In the summer, try it iced. 🙂
What’s your favorite way to chai?