Rolling your own Chai.


These teas can resemble virtually any flavor imaginable.

Rolling your own Chai.

Postby Rainy-Day » May 5th, '09, 05:32

Milk or half and half?

What's your favorite recipe?

Does it matter much if spices are cheap or expensive?

What's your favorite source for spices?

What is the best sweetener - brown sugar, turbinado sugar, something else?

Does it matter if tea is just your run of the mill half decent assam or ceylon or some really good assam?

How long do you boil the tea?

I've experimented with chai in the last week and I found out that you really gotta be easy on ginger - it overpowers everything else if you add too much. I also tried cardamom-only chai and so far I like mix of spices better. But my cardamom is suspect - some pods have black grains, some have brown grains, others have whitish grains, and it was kind of cheap.. I just ordered a zillion of different spices from penzeys so I will soon find out if using a better cardamom will help..
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Postby silvermage2000 » May 5th, '09, 16:48

I prefer a dash of milk and I do not care if the spices are cheap or not. I just do not like a chai if it has black pepper in it. I mainly just use sugar but I have been wanting to try agave necter as a sweetner. I do like black tea for chai. I my self do not like overly spicy chai but that depends on the person.

I have only had chai from celestial seasonings but I hear that yogic chai is pretty good.
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Postby tenuki » May 5th, '09, 22:41

here's how I roll:

fresh ginger
no pepper
half and half

boil everything in the same pot and strain stuff out when you pour and the milk last and don't bring it back to a boil.

I work off Tao of Tea's 500 mile chai and add fresh ginger. If your mouth isn't totally numb afterwards you haven't done it right. :D
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Postby charizzi » May 6th, '09, 00:22

I love making chai! In fact I just made some today for my friends using rooibos instead of black tea.

I usually boil the water with spices for a bit, simmer and add tea for maybe around 10 min. I like to add either honey or brown sugar then add the milk last and strain.

I use about 2-3 cardamom pods, 2-3 cloves, 1/2 in stick of cinnamon or less or a dash of cinnamon powder, a tsp of black peppercorn, and 1/2 in piece of vanilla bean. Generally, I mix it up, but I love the mix of cardamom and cloves. :)
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Postby Rainy-Day » May 6th, '09, 04:43

charizzi wrote:I love making chai! In fact I just made some today for my friends using rooibos instead of black tea.

I usually boil the water with spices for a bit, simmer and add tea for maybe around 10 min. I like to add either honey or brown sugar then add the milk last and strain.

I use about 2-3 cardamom pods, 2-3 cloves, 1/2 in stick of cinnamon or less or a dash of cinnamon powder, a tsp of black peppercorn, and 1/2 in piece of vanilla bean. Generally, I mix it up, but I love the mix of cardamom and cloves. :)


Sounds really neat! I see that vanilla beans are about $7 for 3 of them.. not cheap! When you use 1/2 in piece, what portion of whole bean is that, 1/5th, 1/10th? Do you reuse the same piece again? A tsp of black pepper sounds like it would drown everything out.. I used 3 grains and now am down to 2-1 grain, but I'm still experimenting.
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Postby Rainy-Day » May 6th, '09, 04:46

tenuki wrote:here's how I roll:

fresh ginger
no pepper
half and half

boil everything in the same pot and strain stuff out when you pour and the milk last and don't bring it back to a boil.

I work off Tao of Tea's 500 mile chai and add fresh ginger. If your mouth isn't totally numb afterwards you haven't done it right. :D


Ow, I'm too sensitive to ginger, I think. I added about 1/16" x 1/2" piece to one of the last batches and it was too much. The best thing for me is when all spices blend together without any one of them overwhelming the others..

I think it also might be that spices I used were cheap and stale, but the ginger was fresh, so it really got the upper hand!
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Postby Rainy-Day » May 6th, '09, 04:52

Ok, I haven't tried this but I was looking for recipes and I found something that "sounds" right:

* use only half-and-half, not milk
* simmer for no less than 15 mins
* stir continuously
* the mixture is reduced 2x by volume as it simmers, so that you start with 2 cups of water and half and half and end up with 1 cup of chai.

I'll try this soon enough..

re: raw agave nectar, I have that & will try it instead of turbinado sugar. I think it's not going to work as well but I think it's healthier (there are conflicting opinions on this). I think turbinado sugar works a little better than regular dark brown sugar, and it's easier to add; but I need to experiment more with this.
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Re: Rolling your own Chai.

Postby tropicanahana » Dec 5th, '09, 01:02

My indian ex used to make this amazinnnggg chai for me, it made my idea of spice tea and tea with milk change forever. He added milk to the water - about 1 cup water, 1 + 1/2 cup milk, and boiled them on the stove with a full piece of ginger he'd make me grind (VERY GINGERY! But I love this) and a cinnamon stick after they were simmering for a bit, added a powdery assam tea which we boiled and stirred the heck out of for about 20 minutes! No sugar, no cardamom! He thought I was silly when I asked about things like nutmeg, pepper and star anise!! I wanted to call it ginger tea.

I brew my milk tea the same as him but like to add honey, powder cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom pods. I brew the spices with the milk and water for about 15 minutes before adding the tea mmm the smell is so wonderful. My favorite tea to use is Lipton's Darjeeling full leaf which I found at an indian store and I brew it for about 15 minutes. I like it better than the assam tea, but will also try out different teas! Chai is a lot of fun to experiment with!
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Re:

Postby tenuki » Dec 5th, '09, 04:00

Rainy-Day wrote:The best thing for me is when all spices blend together without any one of them overwhelming the others..

I think it also might be that spices I used were cheap and stale, but the ginger was fresh, so it really got the upper hand!



That is indeed the trick, all fresh spices. I often add in cloves from the local organic store. I like it when all the spices are overwhelming me together. :D
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Re: Rolling your own Chai.

Postby Chatsworth » Dec 5th, '09, 10:42

I find Tazo sells an excellent Organic Chai which is great when I am in a hurry. Steep the bag, add warmed in the microwave milk and sweetner and you are good to go. Another quick method is to brew any black tea and add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of a Masala Chai spice powder mix and milk. A good one is Badshah brand available at any Indian grocery store.

When I am in the mood however, usually once a day, I make my own. I use 2 cardamon pods (green ones), 2-3 whole cloves, 2-3 whole peppercorns, a thin slice of fresh ginger (I freeze mine and it works great) and about 1/2 stick of cinnamon. I usually crush the spices a bit with a mortar and then add to water in a pan which I bring to a boil, add tea and simmer for about 5 minutes. I add milk (usually 1/2 cup milk to 1 cup water) and get it hot again, not necessary to boil.

Pour through a strainer into a large glass and enjoy.

I use fat free milk and Splenda, and find that is fine. Just watching my calories.

It is really a very simple preparation and my friends are always amazed since the spice thing is quite foreign to them.
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Re: Rolling your own Chai.

Postby kymidwife » Dec 5th, '09, 11:16

I've tried lots of different chai blends, and enjoyed them all. I think it is much more fun to make your own and experiment, but I've always been a kitchen adventurer. There are so many variations... I love crushed red pepper flakes or black peppercorns, as I like a bit of hot kick... and I love coconut and lemongrass, as found in Adagio's Thai Chai blend.

I noticed someone commenting on the expense of vanilla beans, and wanted to interject this piece of info. Williams-Sonoma has a Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla paste in a jar... not an extract, not even really a liquid, more like a suspension/gel containing the actual vanilla bean. So much easier than dealing with the beans, same amazing vanilla taste, and more economical because the jar will last forever, and you don't have to worry about a partial bean drying out or ruining. The jar is 11.00 USD, but each one lasts me at least 4 to 6 months. It's made by Nielsen-Massey who also markets a liquid extract, whole vanilla beans, and vanilla-infused sugar. I much prefer this paste to extract or dealing with whole beans.
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Re: Rolling your own Chai.

Postby Ebtoulson » Dec 8th, '09, 22:08

You could also buy your vanilla bean online. Just a quick amazon search and I found 7 beans/pods for 10 bucks, I'm not sure about the quality but I seems like it would be worth the risk.
Another thing you can do is split the pod and scrape the insides out to add to your chai and then put the rest of the pod in some sugar and over time it infuses the vanilla flavor into the sugar.
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