Chai” is the Hindi word for “tea,” but baristas and commercial tea blenders use the term to refer specifically to a fragrant brew of black tea, milk, and various spices. This Indian-inspired beverage is actually masala chai (meaning “spicy tea”).
Whatever you call it, you can save time and money by making it at home — tweaking the spices based on your personal taste and the ingredients you have on hand. This method will produce about a quart of chai concentrate, which you can enjoy hot or iced with your favorite milk or dairy-free alternative.
- One 3-in. piece of fresh gingerroot, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 tbs. green cardamom pods
- 1 tsp. whole cloves
- 5 cinnamon sticks
- 5 pieces whole star anise
- 10 allspice berries
- 1 tsp. black peppercorns
- 6 cups water
- 5 tbs. loose-leaf black tea (or rooibos for a decaf version)
- 1 tbs. vanilla extract
- 2 tbs. honey or maple syrup (optional)
- Whole milk or nondairy alternative
1. Using the bottom of a skillet or the back of a wooden spoon, lightly crack the cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise, and allspice berries.
2. Combine water and spices in a medium pot and bring to a slow boil over medium-high heat. Turn heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes.
3. Remove pot from heat, add tea, and let steep for 10 minutes.
4. Strain the liquid with a fine-mesh sieve. Stir in vanilla and preferred sweetener.
5. Store your concentrate in a glass container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Mix 1:1 with your milk of choice and heat in a small saucepan to desired temperature. Or combine two parts chai with one part milk and enjoy over ice.