I remember the first time I had Chai Tea. It was served iced cold, on a rather warm day in the gardens at The Dream Cafe in Morrison, CO. (the year panini's hadn't even been heard about in the US and Dream Cafe had them - but, that's another story.) I am still amazed at how all the spices work together to create such an exotic tasting iced tea. Over the years since, I have bought and made many Chai teas that are "instant." Usually, reserving those for quick fixes on a cold, Winters night... My Summer Chai is all about the concentrate. Store in the fridge, for multiple batches. Serve Hot or Cold, your choice.
I love how you can control exactly how much flavor or sweetness you want to taste. I say, make this version and then 'tweak' to your own preference (in milks, sweeteners, and increase spices you love, decrease the ones you don't) ~ Enjoy! Diane
A Bit of History:
..."According to lore, masala chai’s history began thousands of years ago in an ancient royal court. Some legends say it was created 9000 years ago, while others say it was 5000 years ago. Some say the court was located in what is now India, while others attribute masala chai to Thai origins. Regardless, it is said that a king created it as a cleansing, vivifying Ayurvedic beverage.
Even early on, masala chai was made with a wide range of spices and prepared with many different methods. It was served hot or cold as a remedy for mild ailments. At this time, the spicy-sweet drink known as “masala chai” did not contain any tea leaves and was caffeine-free...Masala chai became even more popular in India in the 1960s, when a mechanized form of tea production called 'CTC' made black tea affordable for the Indian masses. CTC (or 'Crush, Tear, Curl') tea lacks the nuances that many crave in an unadorned cup of tea, but it does have a bold, tannic flavor that made it a tasty foil to masala chai’s sweet, creamy and spicy notes. For this reason, CTC masala chai remains a staple in many parts of India.."
Homemade Chai Tea Concentrate
Makes Approx 1 Quart (4 Cups)
14 cardamom pods, gently crushed
8 whole black peppercorns
7 whole cloves
3-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced
4 cups water
3-4 cinnamon sticks
3 whole allspice (optional)
2 Tbs brown sugar, to taste
1 Tbs creamed or liquid honey (optional)
2 star anise
1 vanilla bean, sliced down the middle*
(you can use 1/2 tsp vanilla bean *paste)
1/8 tsp nutmeg, ground
4 black tea bags, I use Tazo brand
In a saucepan, bring all ingredients except tea bags together to a low boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add tea bags and let steep on low for 5-10 minutes. Pour mixture through a strainer or cheesecloth and reserve the liquid (your concentrate.) Let cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
Use within two weeks, when making the chai tea, it's a 1:1 mixture of concentrate to milk ratio.
Recipe and Photos by: Diane Baker for Canning and Cooking at Home