Homemade Chai

ginger cinnamon

Chai is my mom's and my drink.  Mostly because this is her recipe that she has tweaked and tested until getting it just right (hence, the seemingly random numbers for the spices).  But, more importantly because I can't keep count of the many times we have sat at the kitchen table drinking chai.  There have been moments of happiness and joy and there have also been moments of doubt, sadness and incredible heartbreak.  Chai is the most perfect drink for those days; when nothing seems right in the world and you need some serious nourishing.  With fresh whole spices gently simmered, it is medicinal in the best way possible-both for body and soul:  

  • Cinnamon: Warming and calming to the digestive tract.  Aids with indigestion, colic, nausea.  Protects the intestinal lining from ulcers and inflammation.  
  • Cardamom:  Soothing and calming for digestive troubles.  
  • Clove: Used for an upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea and gas. 
  • Peppercorns: Stimulating.  Useful for activating sluggish digestion
  • Ginger: The ultimate anti-inflammatory.  Great for nausea and indigestion.   

For concentrate:

4 cinnamon sticks
23 cardamom pods
17 whole cloves
12 peppercorns
5 (1/4-inch) thick pieces of ginger, cut vertically
1 black tea bag (or 1-2 tsp loose leaf tea)

For chai:

1/4 cup of milk of choice (dairy, almond, coconut, etc)
chai concentrate (see above)
Raw honey

On a cutting board, smash cardamom pods with the back of knife.  Add to large pot.  Count out and add remaining spices.  Add ginger slices.  Pour in 2 quarts of cold, filtered water. Bring to a boil and cover leaving a slight crack and bring down to a gentle simmer for 60 minutes. Remove from heat and add tea bag (or leaves) and let steep for 5 minutes covered. Discard tea. Let the concentrate cool. it can sit up to 8 hours without being strained. I find the flavors develop more if you let it sit for a bit. I usually make it at night and strain in the morning. When you're ready, strain the chai from the spices and store in glass jars in the fridge. To make a chai, add 1/4 cup of milk to a mug, pour in chai to fill mug and heat in a small saucepan until it just boils. Add honey to taste. Stir well and serve.