I call this a ritual because I have a very particular way of making it, which can be a little time consuming, but it is definitely worth the effort. I can get a pot of chai on the boil, and all the extras ready, within a few minutes, even on the busiest of mornings.
I use fresh ginger juice, which makes a big difference, but for years I just added slices of ginger root to the pot, or if this was not available, powder also worked. This is a cardamom, black pepper, and ginger focused chai. I am not a fan of cinnamon dominated chai, so I keep the cinnamon to a minimum.
For a large pot of chai (will make around 6-8 cups)
1-2 tablespoons cardamom seeds, crushed with a pestle & mortar, or semi-ground in a grinder
Freshly ground black pepper, around 20-30 turns of a grinder
6-8 whole cloves
half a medium cinnamon stick, or a whole small stick, broken into small pieces
1 whole star anise (optional)
2 teabags of black tea, or 2 tspns loose black tea (my favorite is PG Tips)
fresh ginger pieces, juiced if possible
Fill a pot with approximately 3 liters (approx 3 quarts) of fresh water. Add the cardamom, black pepper, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, and tea.
Next, bring to the boil and leave it to simmer for at least 15-20 mins to allow the spices to infuse. If you want a stronger taste just add more spices, or adjust the proportions to your preference. Some people like more of a cardamom taste (like me), and others prefer cinnamon.
Now for the ritual…
Take a mug or cup, and add 5-10ml of ginger juice (approximately 2 small teaspoons), and sweetener of choice, if using. I love coconut sugar as it has a similarity to molasses, and I admit, I love a sweet chai. Mix these well together, and if you like a peppery taste, grind some more black pepper directly into the cup. For me, the pepper is essential and makes the difference to this chai’s flavor. Even if you think it’s a strange idea and makes no sense, I encourage you to try upping the pepper content.
Add some milk of choice, into the cup and stir together with the ginger and sweetener. I use homemade almond milk.
Then using a strainer, and ladle, pour the brewed chai into the cup, stir, and enjoy. I taste chai everywhere I travel but this is hands down the best! I get excited to come home, just so I can have my own chai!!