I love chai.
However, I must readily admit I've only ever drunk chai in North America, where nearly all chai is made from a syrupy concentrate rather than made from scratch right before drinking.
In India, the birthplace of the masala chai I have come to know and love, chai is made fresh with coins of fragrant ginger and freshly ground spices.
However, I must admit I love the convenience of having a chai concentrate on hand to mix up a cup quickly and easily whenever I'm in the mood.
So, I make this homemade chai tea concentrate, which is cheaper than buying the store-bought concentrates, allows me to use natural, mineral-rich sweeteners to taste, and I can adjust the spices as I like.
- 5 cups water
- 3 inches fresh ginger, sliced into coins
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 star anise
- 1 tablespoon black or pink peppercorns
- 60 cardamom pods
- 20 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon whole coriander (optional)
- 1 orange peel (optional)
- 1/2 cup whole leaf loose black tea or 12 tea bags
- 3/4 cup honey, more or less to taste
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Place the water, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, peppercorns, cardamom, cloves, coriander, and orange peel in a wide saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add in the tea. Let steep for 7-9 minutes, then strain the entire mixture through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Stir in the honey, molasses, vanilla, and lemon juice, then pour into a mason jar or other airtight storage container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. (Alternatively, the concentrate may be frozen for up to six months, so consider freezing the concentrate as ice cubes to reheat in single size portions.)
- Serve with milk in a ratio of 1:1.
- To serve hot, heat 1/2 cup chai concentrate with 1/2 cup whole milk, almond milk, or coconut milk and enjoy thoroughly.
- If you have a cut leaf loose tea (e.g. Yorkshire Gold) rather than a whole leaf loose tea, cut the amount of tea in half and use only 1/4 cup.