How To Make Chai

Having the sniffles, stinks.

I woke up this morning feeling as if I’d swallowed a softball. Blech. My nose was pretty stuffy and my sinuses ached. I stayed home from work and did nothing all day.

Then it occurred to me: What is the one thing that could make me feel better? My mom’s Chai.

Well, my mom lives an hour away and I needed the Chai right then and there.

So I made some. And it was amazing. Chai is the traditional spice tea that people in India drink almost every day instead of having coffee. It’s delicious and so easy to make at home.

And now I’ll tell you how to make it at home, too.

My moms Chai is the cure for the common cold. I’m not kidding. It’s spicy so it clears up your sinuses, it’s hot so it soothes and it makes you sleepy so you’ll rest.

If I don’t fall asleep halfway through writing this entry, please applaud me.

Here’s what you’ll need for 1 serving of Chai (I’ll explain each ingredient after):
•Black Cloves
•Cardamom (in the pod)
•Cinnamon stick
•Black peppercorn
•2 tea bags

I use a British tea, often referred to as Darjaleeng, which is what you see above. It’s the most common type of tea used. You can use loose-leaf tea if you want, but tea bags are much easier (and easier to dispose).

There are probably like 5-8 whole black peppercorns in there. Now, this ingredient is totally optional. In fact, my mom told me she only uses peppercorns when she’s sick since the spice and heat from the pepper helps clear the sinuses. So obviously, I used some today.

5-6 pieces of cardamom, in the pod.

Cardamom is a staple ingredient in Chai. If you don’t have any of the other ingredients, this is the one you should have if you want to make Chai, or garam masala. It’s spicy, sweet and smokey. I love it! Now, a lot of people will wonder why you need the pods because if you open the pod, you get cardamom seeds that look black like what I used when I made garam masala. I use the pods because I like the flavor even from the skin so it’s not just the seeds that help create the distinct flavor of Chai.

Cinnamon stick. Powder won’t cut it. This adds another spicy-sweet flavor. A “mulling” spice, if you will.

You need a pinch of whole black cloves. This adds a SUPER intense smokey flavor that I just love.

Let’s make some Chai! Because I’m still surprised I’m awake…

You’ll need a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have one, they aren’t expensive to buy. You could grind everything up in a grinder, but I don’t think having a powder works quite as well.

I’ve mentioned before how much I love mine. It was a wonderful gift from my parents and a perfect use for making Chai.

Since I made Chai only for myself, this is 1 1/2 cups of water I put into a sauce pan to heat. Let the water get a little hot before you add in the tea.

So while that’s happening, you can make your Chai mixture.

Break up the cinnamon either with your hands or with the pestle (the “bat” used to crush things)

Place all the ingredients into the mortar and pestle and go to town to crush it all up!

This is what you end up with. I inhaled this mixture about a million times, and that alone made me feel a ton better. All the oils were released and it smelled so wonderful.

When the water is hot (not boiling), add in the tea bags and stir. Let it steep for 5-10 minutes.

It’ll turn a lovely mahogany color as it’s steeping. Soooo pretty!

Add in the Chai mix to the water and tea bags. Let it heat through another 5 minutes or so and stir well. As you do, you’ll really smell the Chai and your nose will grow impatient.

When it’s all done, pour the tea into a measuring cup. This will make for easy pouring into your cup.

Using a strainer, pour the tea into your cup.

The strainer will catch all the tea mixture, but leave the great intense flavor in your cup.

Traditionally, Chai is served with milk and sugar. It’s how I’ve always had it growing up, so having tea just straight black, tastes horrible to me.

You really only want enough milk to turn the Chai into a beautiful chestnut color. You’ll need to add quite a bit of sugar to help sweeten it. If you don’t, it’ll be REALLY strong. I mean, I guess you could leave it that way, but I like it sweet.

So there you go! It’s definitely not hard to make your own Chai and beats what ever they serve you at your local coffee shop because that’s almost always pre-made. That’s definitely not my BAG. Heh heh. Sorry, the puns are thanks to the cold. Although, my sniffles have reduced a ton thanks to this tea. I’m not kidding: cure for the common cold. Well, at least I like to think so.

8 thoughts on “How To Make Chai

  1. sarah @ sarah learns

    oh man, i don’t have any of these ingredients! i’ll definitely add them to my list so i have them on hand next time i’m feeling sick (which is hopefully not for a long time!). maybe i’ll have to try it BEFORE i get sick again. :)

  2. Liza (Jersey Cook)

    Hi Aparna, I wanted to check back in because I finally made the chai!

    The only difference was that I toasted the spices before grinding them up to intensify their flavor.

    I LOVE it! I am sipping it right now and hoping that it gets rid of this cold I have been carrying around for a week.

    Bravo on the recipe – it is delicious. My only complaint is all the dishes! Usually the only thing I have to wash is a mug. Oh well, it’s worth it!

    1. notaleaf Post author

      Awesome! Yeah, lots of little dishes…but I find it’s worth it. Glad you tried it and worked out for you! :) Good idea on toasting the spices!

  3. Liza (Jersey Cook)

    Oh wow, this sounds delicious! I am bookmarking it for the next time I’m sick.

    I have everything BUT the cardamom in my pantry. How ironic, considering that’s the only thing you said is essential. I even have the darjeeling tea! Ok, off to the Indian grocery store. I will definitely check back in when I make this. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. notaleaf Post author

      Cardamom is what gives Chai that distinct “chai” taste, which is why I said that’s the one ingredient you need. Please do tell me after you’re made it :)

  4. notaleaf Post author

    Excellent! Let me know how it works out for you! Do you need cardamom? If you’re in Ann Arbor sometime this week…I can give you some that I have. I know Jeremy is out, but if you’re around, let me know :)

  5. Sarah

    Sounds very tasty! One of my craft-friends make a chai concentrate and brought it on our craft weekend. It was great! Sweetened condensed milk, spices for chai, all stirred together. We just brewed tea, added a few teaspoons of the mix, and it was good. I would like to try your recipe, though. I think I might this next week. :)

    Feel better!


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