Everything you need
A sauce pan
While most days I boil up some hot water, toss a tea bag in a cup and pour hot water in, proper chai is mixed chai and for this you must have a trusty sauce pan:
|photo source here|
You might be thinking, thanks for adding cups as an essential component of chai making Aisha, otherwise I would've poured the drink into my cupped hands. Yes, cups are obvious but its important to pick the cup you'll use pre-chai-making because it doubles as the measuring cup. I pick the size according to my needs, like today after a late night with friends, I opted for this:
Whereas K who is diehard loyal to his sports team generally drinks out of his trusty mug regardless of the day or the moment:
Loose Tea. I used to only use yellow label tea until my brother and his wife bought us some Putnam & Mason and now that's one of my favorites too. Good quality tea leaves matter as does the necessity of buying loose tea. Bagged tea is okay but the papery veil removes a great deal of the true flavor.
Cardamom. Just one or two is enough.
Sugar. At the moment I have 'sugar in the raw' but my true preference is white sugar.
Milk. My parents swear by whole milk and while that tastes best I opt for 2% because the taste difference is minimal and I will get more overall use out of 2% as opposed to a gallon of whole, of course you could also buy a pint of whole milk to use exclusively for chai. Due to nursing I don't drink as much as I otherwise would so 2% works for me.
Water. My tap water rocks but my parents get water from the grocery store while some use home filtered water. Water is truly important in the ultimate flavor so make sure the water you use is the purest you can find.
Strainer: Used to pour out the tea when you're done.
- Fill up your chai cup to the rim with water and pour into the sauce pan.
- Turn the stove on high to bring water to a rapid boil
- While water is warming up, place the cardamon in a small bowl and with the back of a spoon press down back and forth crushing it slightly. If you have a mortar and pistle this works better. Drop the cardamon into the pot.
- Once the water is boiling reduce heat to medium and put two teaspoons of loose tea. [Some people add an extra teaspoon 'for the pot' while others put far less loose tea using one teaspoon for two cups. This really depends on how strong of a brew you prefer.]
- Reduce heat to medium-low and brew for three minutes [I brew on lower heat to reduce evaporation. You can brew as long as you like depending on how strong you want your drink]
- Return to medium heat and add one chai cup of milk. [This is a matter of personal preference too, I prefer my chai on the milky side, if you don't then up your water and reduce the milk to get the color and flavor you want].
- Once the milk begins warming add 3 teaspoons of sugar. [Or more/less based on your preference. I prefer my sugar cooked in but some like to pour it in once the chai is in the cup, its up to you]