A Cuppa Chai

Posted by Stephaney Oberon on

Cherished for centuries in India, this powerful blend of tea and spices may become your favorite cold-weather beverage. 

Chai is a delightful alternative to too much coffee. Chai, simmering away on the stove makes my tiny kitchen smell divine and imparts a sense of nurturing. I first discovered Chai while living in New York City, it was offered after classes at Kundalini Yoga East. Yet when I exchanged the city for the sea, I forgot about Chai. How did I forget about Chai? 

The Tea

Chai is more than tea, it is a way of life in India. Although there are many different variations of Chai, the basic components are the same; tea, spices, milk, and sweetener. With a few exceptions, the base of chai is black tea, and Assam is the most common as it has a strong, full-bodied flavor. 

The Milk

The milk used for chai almost always includes whole milk. You can explore your variations for those of you who don't drink cow's milk,  I've experimented, but have gone back to whole milk in my chai as it brings out the richness of the spices. 

The Spices

Chai can include a number of different spices, but fresh spices make the best chai. Cinnamon sticks or chips, whole cardamom pods, fresh ginger, whole cloves, and star anise. I also like to add whole peppercorns, and occasionally will add coriander, nutmeg, fennel, and even turmeric root as I like the benefits of these spices even though they are not a traditional chai. 


Chai generally is served sweet. I tend to lighten this a bit, but some people use a heaping teaspoon of plain white sugar per cup. You can consider experimenting with brown sugar, cane sugar, or even maple syrup, or honey.  Again, the sweetener will bring out the flavor of the spices. 


Variations and techniques are numerous when it comes to making Chai. The basic process is combining spices, tea, milk, and sweetener in some order of preparation. There is much debate over the best method, like when to add the milk, or how long to let the chai simmer. Some recommendations are simmering for a few minutes, others say 1-2 hours.  My current process of making chai works for me, but may meet opposition from others.  Experiment and see what works best for you. 

Preparing Chai Tea

  • Bring 2 quartz of water to a boil. After water begins to boil add: 
  • 15 whole cloves
  • 6-8  sliced fresh ginger (1/4 inch thick, no need to peel) or use 1 Tablespoon dried ginger
  • 15 - 20 whole cardamom pods, cracked open with mortar and pestle 
  • 3 cinnamon sticks or 1 heaping Tablespoon cinnamon bits
  • 15-20 Black Peppercorns
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of black Assam loose leaf tea (added after removing from heat) 

Many are insistent that you can't add your ingredients until you have brought the water to a boil, so add your ingredients to boiling water. After adding the spices, allow all ingredients except the tea to boil for 10 minutes to bring the 'fire' into the spices. Reduce to simmer for another 30 minutes placing the lid on the pot to keep the water from reducing too quickly. Remove from heat and add the tea, stir gently. Allow to cool. Strain into a large glass quart jar with a lid and store in a refrigerator. Consume within 3-4 days. 

Now that your Chai is prepared, all you need to do is re-heat the amount you want and add your desired amount of milk and sweetener.  Gently heat the Chai, then add sweetener and milk. Do not boil. If you have a milk frother, remove from heat and froth your chai before pouring it into a cup. Topping with a pinch of cinnamon if you have it on hand. 

Chai means Tea. In America, we often refer to Chai as Chai Tea, which means we are saying tea tea, so simply call it Chai. The benefits of all of these spices are numerous including digestive aid, appetite stimulant, and antioxidant benefits. Add to that the delicious taste, and nurturing quality of smelling and sipping this lovely beverage. 

Prefer to have the ingredients blended for you? 

JANE SELLS CHAI with fresh, organic spices and an additional package of organic black tea. 



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