This is one of our family favorite hot beverages for the colder months. Momma and Pappa like it with caffeine , and of course we keep the caffeine out for the children. We make a big pot of the "base" then customize each cup. Which makes this nice for company too! This is delightful to have brewing over night for a breakfast beverage or brewing all morning to greet the family after you have been outside working (or playing) in the cold. These ingredients may not be common in most American kitchens, but if you like Chai it is well worth starting to stock them! This beverage warms and heals. Our friends in the East have held this secret for far too long! It's actually quite nice on ice too. This is a more thrifty (and healthy) way to have chai than the coffee shops or the health food reproductions. There are premixed chai tea bags you can brew in a cup...but I have never found one I like as much as this. :-) There are also premixed chai concentrates, that are expensive and often too sweet (which is why I wanted to learn to make my own). Besides the aroma therapy benefits of this delicious fragrance that permeates the house is, all part of the comfort experience! This is best done in a crock pot or slow burning wood stove top, but you can do it on low on the stove, or bring to a boil and put in a pre-heated thermos for a long slow brew while camping or hunting.
3qrts of filtered water
1T fresh grated ginger
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
5 cardamom pods, broken open (or 1/2 to 3/4 tsp cardamom seeds or ground)
2 sticks Cinnamon (about 3-4")
2 tsp whole cloves
1/4 - 1/2 of a vanilla bean pod, sliced in half to open the pod
- You may put all these things in the pot "free floating" but I like to use a homemade teabag (made of cotton, linen, muslin or hemp). I have also used cheese cloth and tied it like a bundle with string. I have also use a large metal tea basket. Any of these thing work well to keep your tea free from floaties. (Which makes it much nicer to serve!)
- Simmer in a crock pot on low or on top of the woods stove for several hours (covered). The longer the better, 3-4 hours minimum. However, I like to do it as much as 12+ hours. If you do it on the stove top bring to a boil and simmer about 30 minutes.
Caffeine Free - The kids like to drink this like it is with a little honey and milk. Or we dish a cup of it and put a bag of Linden Flower tea in to make it stronger. While the tea bag is steeping and good and hot we add a teaspoon of honey and mix it. Than remove the bag (squeeze all the flavor out!) and add milk. They drink this down like hot chocolate!
With Caffeine - Dish a cup and steep a bag of Darjeeling, English Breakfast, or Lipton (orange Pekoe) or Lucienne tea. (Any black tea) While it is hot and steeping, put a teaspoon of honey in to dissolve. Remove and squeeze the tea bag and than add milk.
Above is a picture of a cardamom pod. This might be handy for you to get. Below the green pod it the cardamom seed that you find in side the pod. What I forgot to add, in the picture was ground cardamom, which you can find on most spice racks. It is just these seeds ground finer.
I have also learned that you can freeze ginger root whole. I buy it in bulk and do this, so I ALWAYS have it on hand (for so many things!).