One of my favourite warming drinks this time of year is a Masala Chai Tea Latte. Not just any chai latte but my own home brew. Since I am not a fan of tea bags (except for Yogi Tea or Pukka Tea) and I can’t tolerate black tea (the caffeine gets to me) – that leaves me to create my own original blend. I use Nourish Tea’s Red Rooibos tea instead of black ceylon tea which is commonly used in most chai tea’s. Red tea is from Africa – it is super high in antioxidants and caffeine free! I then put in delicious warming spices that make up the taste that is uniquely chai (cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, peppercorns, fennel…). It is really simple, especially if you have all of these spices on hand – which I typically do. Not only do I love making my own Indian spiced recipes – like we did in my Indian Cooking Class last night – but they are also great spices for everyday nourishment and balance. They are warming, sweet, and aid with digestion. To make the tea complete I finish it off by pouring in a non-dairy based milk, either rice or almond milk with a touch of sweetness from either honey, agave or maple syrup.
So here is the story of Traditional Chai and what it’s significance is all about. Then, I will give you my very own secret chai latte recipe ( I guess it won’t be a secret any more!)
“Masala Chai” (“Masala,” meaning a mixture of spices, and “Chai,” meaning a milky, sweetened, tea) which has been created after its counterparts in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Tibet. Knowing that in general, consumers are unfamiliar with Chai, the industry has taken to calling it a “Chai Tea Latte”. Although “chai” may initially have no meaning, when a consumer hears, “Tea Latte” one understands this is a “milky tea” beverage.
Chai’s history is over 5000 years old, and can be enjoyed both hot and cold. Some stories say it was invented by a royal king in the ancient courts of India & Siam who protected the recipe as one of his treasures. However, its roots can be traced unmistakably to the Hindu natural healing system called “ayurveda” in which combinations of spices, herbs and sweeteners are used to cure bodily ailments.
(Here is a great resource on the benefit of Chai Tea on Digestion)
Simply said, (masala) chai is a combination of spices which are ground and boiled then tea is added to the mixture to steep. The mixture is strained and then mixed with milk and sweetened with honey. Recipes may differ but there are some essentials: Traditional masala chai is a mix of sweet and savory spices such as cloves, cinnamon, star anise, cardamom (which is a base spice in almost any masala chai), peppercorn, ginger and sometimes fennel, which are ground and boiled in water. Black tea is then added to the spice mixture which is steeped to preference, strained, then combined with any choice of milk and sweetened with honey. A sweetener is necessary in masala chai to bring out the robust flavors of the spices. In India, masala chai is prepared at home but is also available wherever people gather such as on trains, at bus stations and in marketplaces by street vendors called “wallahs” who call out “chai!” The wallahs serve the chai in low-fired clay cups called “chullarhs” that they make on open fires.”
Source: David Rio Chai
I don’t make mine on an open fire – unless a gas stove counts? However it still tastes amazing…find out for yourself!
Marni’s Cozy Chai Latte
1 cup pure water
1 cup rice, or almond milk
1 cinnamon stick
4 pieces of cloves
1/3 inch fresh ginger root, sliced
3 pieces whole peppercorns
1/3 tsp whole fennel seeds
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp whole cardamom seeds
2 tsp. rooibos tea
1 tsp of either Honey, Maple Syrup or Agave Nectar to sweeten.
- Simmer all spices in 1 cup of pure water in a covered pot for 30 minutes.
- Add the “milk” and bring to a rolling boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for additional 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat, cool slightly to comfortable drinking temperature and strain through a small mesh sieve and serve in a Bodum Glass Cup or mug with your sweetener of choice.
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