This morning was a chai morning… it had been rainy and cold yesterday, and was just warming up this morning but still a little chilly. The gingery, warm, sweet elixir was calling out from the kitchen to me on my yoga blankets. Last night I did the rare thing… I was out until 10pm, at a dance performance, so the bit of caffeine balanced with the milk and cardamom is just a perfect extra umph!
Let me start with a little chai knowledge before we get to the recipe…
- Chai means tea. So there is no need to call it “chai tea”… that is like saying “tea tea”.
- Chai in India is not complicated. It’s black tea, milk and sugar. In the cold season there will be ginger (adrak in Hindi) and if you ask for “Elaichi Chai” you’ll get cardamom. In some regions you may find black pepper, lemongrass or mint added as well. If you want black tea, it’s “Kali Chai”… otherwise expect milk.
- What you won’t see in traditional chai: green tea, honey, soymilk, clove, star anise, corn syrup, stevia or synthetic ingredients of any kind.
- Milk – akasha (the space that contains everything)
- Tea – vayu (the air that moves, blows and changes)*
- Massala (spice) – agni (the fire that illumines and transforms)
- Water – jala (the water that softens, expands, contracts and takes the shape of it’s container)
- Sugar – prithvi (the earth that supports and binds)
- 2 Cups water
- 1 Cup whole organic milk
- 2 Tb loose assam tea
- 1 tsp black cardamom seeds (removed from green husk)
- 1 small cinnamon stick (or a piece of cinnamon stick)
- Thumb size piece of fresh ginger, chopped roughly
- 2 TB organic cane sugar
Alternatives… okay, okay, if you really must 🙂
You can exchange the milk for almond milk, rice milk or oat milk. You can exchange the sugar for maple syrup or raw agave. If you prefer honey (best for kapha types and in the winter and spring) – use local, raw, unpasturized honey and add it after you’ve poured it into your cup and it has cooled to a drinking temperature.
For herbal chai… use Far Leaves’ tea blend . In this case, add the tea & spice blend to the water & milk and bring it all to slow boil together, then sweeten and let rest 5 minutes before straining.