My daughter has inherited my affinity for tea. Branching out from ordinary black tea or herbal varieties, her favorite is masala chai, a sumptuous drink that originated in India. A unique selection of spices including cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and black pepper are blended together with tea and milk to create this rich, seductive blend.
In India, teas are grown in three regions: Darjeeling, Nilgiri, and Assam. You will find black, oolong, and green teas there, ready to be harvested and enjoyed.
In order to create chai, the spices must be added to the water along with the loose leaves. Boil this mixture for at least five minutes, or longer. Add milk and simmer for another three to five minutes. Be sure to strain the tea before pouring it into mugs.
You can adapt this drink to meet your specific dietary needs:
- Dairy Free. If you enjoy the frothiness of a cup of chai, but are lactose intolerant, you can substitute with soy, rice, or almond milk.
- Fat Free. If you wish, you can use a fat free milk alternative. Since the tea may be less rich in taste, you may want to add extra spices to compensate.
- Sugar Free. For those counting calories or requiring a low sugar diet, you can simply omit sugar from your recipe. Artificial sweeteners are not recommended, as they will make the tea bitter. You will not even miss the sugar, thanks to the delicious spice blend.
- Caffeine Free. You can either choose to use a decaf black tea or an herbal blend as the base .
Masala chai can be enjoyed hot or cold. My daughter will often get a chai bubble tea when we are out shopping.
Preparing a cup of chai at home has become easier now that prepared powders, tea bags, and concentrates are readily available at your local market or specialty stores, or you can even order various blends from Amazon. Some people prefer to brew a cup (or two) from scratch so that they can customize their own spice blend.
About Jennifer Swartvagher
Jennifer is an experienced journalist and author. Her work has been featured on TODAY Parents, The New York Times Blog, BlogHer, Scary Mommy, and scores of other parenting and cooking publications.