I love making chai at home. Especially in the evening with a quick, but hearty, pudding like apple crumble or a slice of rich cake. It’s really comforting.
I normally enjoy my black tea without sugar and milk and not too heavily flavoured. I never boil water when preparing any type of tea as this burns the leaves and I generally brew black tea at 95C. Also, I brew tea for an exact amount of time to ensure I get the best flavour I can from the tea and so that there is no bitterness. But, when it comes to chai, this all goes out the window. I think that chai should be 1 part milk to 2 parts tea with lots of sugar as it is traditionally served in India. Being so sweet and milky it means no bitterness can come through if the water goes above 95C. Extra spices and flavours can also be added to make masala chai. I do still like the tea to be of a good quality and use filtered water!
I was given advice on how to prepare chai by an Indian relative and have since adapted it to make it my own. Here is what I do…
[These measurements are for a small cup as that is how chai is traditionally served. I usually have my chai in a large cup so I double this up!]
I use a loose leaf CTC Assam bought over from India by my relative. CTC Assam is best as it is strong and malty and as the leaves are cut so small there is more surface area of the leaves to give flavour when the tea is brewing.
Firstly, I put the tea into a saucepan and mix in whatever spices and flavours I’m in the mood for. I use 1 heaped teaspoon of tea for each cup. I always put in a small piece of fresh ginger, some cinnamon stick, star anise and 2 bashed cardamom pods per cup. Other things that I add on occasion are pink peppercorns, dried rosebuds, vanilla pod, juniper berries, black cardamom and dried lemongrass. Some people add black peppercorns but I’m not that keen on peppery chai.
Here are the things I added to my masala chai this time…
In another saucepan I mix full fat milk and 2-3 teaspoons of white sugar for each cup. I like to use full fat milk as it makes the chai nice and creamy. If you are not sure how sweet you want the chai then you could add the sugar afterwards. I prefer the sugar to be warmed up in the milk as it dissolves nicely. I also think it should be white sugar as it is better suited to tea and brown sugar is better suited to coffee. The milk should make up 1/3 of the chai. If you are using soy milk, almond milk or another milk substitute then don’t use any water at all!
Whilst the tea is on the hob I stir it a lot in order to keep the tea and added ingredients moving to release more flavour. Tea needs space to infuse well which is why tea bags are terrible things! The milk needs to be stirred occasionally to dissolve the milk to ensure it does not stick.
Both saucepans are ready when they are just off the boil. I then pour the tea into a measuring jug before straining it into the cups with my top hat tea strainer. And then I enjoy it!
My chai is the one on the right as I prefer it milkier than my husband does.
Chai is something that can be experimented with and lots of different flavours can be used so I would be interested to know how you make chai at home and what flavours you add. I’m always keen to experiment with my chai!
On another note, look at this postcard my sister gave me. I’m going to put it in a nice frame. I love it!