Sunday, January 29, 2012

Homemade Masala Chai

When my partner developed a sensitivity to coffee after a battle with metal toxicity, we searched for a beverage that provided a similar level of enjoyment without much success. He decided to try a cup of chai at Extreme Bean, our favorite coffee shop here in Tempe. He liked the taste and had no ill effects, so we decided to recreate the beverage at home. It took a little experimentation to create the right balance of each spice while keeping the recipe affordable.

Chai means tea in Hindi, and masala includes a blend of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and black pepper, according to Tony Gebely, the co-owner of the Chicago Tea Garden. Other masala ingredients include cracked allspice, coriander seeds, fennel and ginger. Whole spices retain their essential oils longer than ground spices, resulting in more flavorful chai blends. Although generic teabags cost less, they lack flavor, so indulge in name-brand teabags or better yet, use loose-leaf or brick tea and a bamboo tea strainer when making chai.

We used a combination of whole and ground spices, because that was what we had available. I used a 4-quart saucepan to bring the tea and spices to a rolling boil, which takes about 10 minutes on high heat. I added the sugar next, while the tea was hot, to ensure that it all dissolved. We heated the milk separately in the microwave, in a 16-ounce ceramic coffee mug. I divided the heated milk into two mugs, then added an equal amount of tea. I used 10 Lipton teabags in 4 quarts of water, because that's what we had available. Use 10 to 12 teaspoons of loose-leaf tea instead, if you have it. After tasting, we decided that this tea would have more body if we used half-and-half or almond milk instead of whole milk.

Ingredients and Equipment:

4-quart saucepan with lid
10 teabags or 10 to 12 teaspoons of loose-leaf black tea
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon cardamom seed
2 teaspoons powdered ginger
3/4 teaspoon powdered clove
2 tablespoons powdered cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
10 tablespoons granulated white sugar
4 quarts milk, half-and-half or almond milk
Bamboo strainer
16-ounce ceramic mugs

Bring the tea and spices to a rolling boil on high heat, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sugar. Stir until all the sugar dissolves. Pout the tea through a colander lined with cheesecloth or use a bamboo strainer to remove the loose tea and whole spices.

Microwave 16 ounces of milk on high for one minute. Divide the milk into two 16-ounce mugs, then fill each mug with 8 ounces of tea. Serve hot or iced. Makes eight 16-ounce servings.

No comments:

Post a Comment