This is one of those things I had been dying to try making for years, but never got around to it because it seemed hard. On the contrary, it only took about an hour out of my weekend and made the house smell amazing - and now I’ve made enough to last me a few weeks! So if you’re interested in drinking hot, sweet, spicy, complex chai, try this out and save yourself years (!) of just thinking about it.
- 1 tsp each ground cardamom, nutmeg, black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp whole cloves
- 1-inch piece of ginger root, sliced into medallions
- 2-3 cinnamon sticks
- 4-5 allspice berries
- 1 vanilla bean pod, sliced open
- 3 pieces star anise or 1 tsp ground anise
- 3 dates
- 3-4 tablespoons whole-leaf black tea leaves - we used Earl Grey Creme c/o The Tea Company
- 3/4 cup light molasses, maple syrup, or sugar (such as sugar in the raw or brown sugar)
- 4 cups boxed coconut milk (found in the refrigerated section) - we also tried canned coconut milk but found it too fatty for this drink. Almond milk would also work in this recipe. Our favorite attempt was vanilla coconut milk c/o So Delicious.
Other equipment you’ll need: a fine-mesh bag and a mesh strainer, a funnel if you’re working with small openings, also a large glass bottle with a top for storage.
If you don’t care so much about the residue of powdered spices, a mesh strainer will work just fine by itself. Use whole spices, alternatively.
Get a stronger tea by using whole spices instead of ground, and/or let the mixture steep on the stove longer.
- Pour all of the ingredients into a pot and turn the heat to medium. Stir to combine and let sit for about 40 minutes, partially covered, stirring every so often.
- Put your mesh bag (or the mesh strainer, if you’ve used whole spices instead of ground) into a large bowl and pour the tea in. Let it strain through, then pour into your storage bottle. I did mine in batches so it was easier to pour.
- When you’re ready to make drinks, fill your cup(s) up halfway, then the rest with a strongly brewed straight-up hot black tea. Top with a dusting of cinnamon and drink it up!
- If you’re using this later on, after it’s been refrigerated, just shake it a bunch of times before you pour it out - sometimes it’s even nice to use the metal mesh strainer again, just as you pour it into glasses, to strain out any lumps.
These ingredients make about 4 cups of chai “concentrate”, but you could easily just keep adding more coconut milk as you empty the pot and reuse the spices a few times. I ended up making about 4 batches total, because I love chai so much.
If you make a lot, you can keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for 7-10 days. When we make a LOT, we freeze it in ice cube trays and then put the cubes in an airtight container in the freezer. You can reheat them or blend in them in the blender for a frozen drink in the summer.
As it is, though, it's a really warming drink that is so comforting and versatile. Hope you enjoy it!