Remember in the fall when I was raving about the cocoa chai rooibos I got from DavidsTea? Well, since then I tried masala chai at our favorite Indian restaurant, and it put my cocoa chai to shame. I got home and immediately started scouring the internets for the secret to making my own. I found a bunch of recipes, but none were quite right, so I made batch after batch of masala chai to see if I could hit on the perfect combination of spices. It was sort of a Goldilocks situation. First I made it too spicy, then too bland, and finally… just right! Daniel proclaimed it the best chai he’s had since he lived in Kenya—which is a big deal (lots of Indian influence over there, so he’s hard to please about this sort of thing). This chai takes some time to make, and it’s a little messy with all the spice crushing and straining, but it’s worth the effort.
8 cardamom pods
8 whole cloves
8 whole allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick (a second for garnish, if desired)
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
½ thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 Tablespoons Taj Mahal or Red Label tea leaves (They look like coffee grounds!)
2 cups whole milk (Low fat is okay if you must, but don’t go skim. It should be creamy.)
2 cups water
sugar to taste
Place the cardamom pods, cloves, allspice berries, and one cinnamon stick in a ziplock bag and crush them with a kitchen mallet, heavy skillet, or rolling pin.
Place the crushed spices in a saucepan with the black pepper, ginger, milk, and 2 cups water. Slowly bring to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. Keep an eye on it, because it will easily boil over. Remove the saucepan from the heat, stir in the tea leaves, cover, and let steep for 10 minutes.
Using a very fine mesh strainer (like this), strain into cups. Add sugar to taste and garnish with a cinnamon stick.
(makes enough to fill 4 small tea cups or 2 coffee mugs)