I love chai. I love the smell. I love the taste. I love how it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
May I tell you a little story? For a couple of my elementary school years we lived near a small town called Salisbury, CT. In Salisbury there is the sweetest little tea room, set back off the main street, called Chaiwalla (fun fact: chaiwalla is actually what people who make and sell chai in India are called). Well, when we lived nearby, my mum and I would go to Chaiwalla for tea and mushroom toast (mushrooms sauteed with lots of garlic and served on whole wheat toast. Yumm!). Now fast forward, say… 16 years, to last summer when I hinted (ok, fine, I told…) my boyfriend that I’d like to go away for our mutual birthday weekend. He came through and surprised me with an overnight in Lakeville, CT (the town next to Salisbury). The funny part is he had no idea that I’d lived there! I was thrilled and the first place we went was to Chaiwalla. As soon as we ordered a pot of chai (their own special blend) I was flooded with a tsunami’s worth of memories, all brought on by this specific smell. Needless to say, I bought a bag of tea to take home, and sniffed the packaging for the next two days!
Well, it was a sad day when I noticed that I was almost out of my beloved Chaiwalla chai, so I went on a search to make my own. Enter one of my very favorite food blogs, Eat Live Run. I am so in love with Jenna’s homemade chai that I make a big batch every week and simply heat it up as needed. It’s perfect! Super flavorful and full of all those good, healthy, warming spices.
Did you know that chai tea comes from the Indian subcontinent where “chai” is simply the generic term for “tea” in Hindi? What we, in the western world, think of as chai, is often actually masala chai, or a spiced tea, one of the countless varieties of chai found throughout India – each originating from, and combining, unique flavors, local tastes, and family traditions.
Each spice that make up masala chai is said to have unique health benefits…In the case of this recipe….
Ginger is great for fighting off colds and flues, and is good for the digestive and respiratory systems. It is also an anti-inflammatory and natural decongestant.
Clove boosts the immune system and is said to fight illness by regenerating heat in the body.
Cinnamon is a stimulant and is said to significantly help lower LDL cholesterol.
Cardamom (my personal favorite!) is said to give clarity and precision to the mind.
So live well and do your mind, and body, a favor by making a batch of this tea to start your day off right!
Oh and by the way, in my opinion, Jenna’s recipe will totally blow Starbucks, Oregon Chai syrup and Trader Joe’s spiced chai powder (all of which perviously fulfilled my chai fix) out of the freakin’ water!
Homemade Vanilla Spiced Chai Tea from Eat Live Run
As is, this recipe serves 1-2, but I highly recommend doubling, or tripling, this recipe and, after straining it, place the tea (without the milk and sugar) in a sealable container in the fridge. It will be good for a couple of weeks (like it could possibly last that long. ha!) and can easily be heated up as needed (and then add the milk and your sweetener of choice).
2 whole black peppercorns
3 green cardamom pods, gently smashed with the side of a knife (available at Whole Foods)
3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin
1 vanilla bean, scraped and seeds reserved
1 tbsp black tea, preferably Assam (you can tear open a tea bag if you don’t have loose tea)
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp sugar or honey
Combine peppercorns, smashed cardamom pods, cloves, ginger, vanilla bean and seeds, and cinnamon stick with the water in a small pot. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for five minutes. After five minutes, take off the stove (but keep covered) and let steep for 10 minutes, then add the tea and continue to steep (covered) for another five minutes.
Pour the tea through a fine mesh strainer and then add milk and sweetener. Warm up if necessary.