Chai is a staple in India, and for good reason, hot or cold, the medicinal deliciousness of a flavour combo that’s been around longer than you can say Saraswati is always and forever off the hook. What I don’t love, is sitting around for an hour waiting for the amazing herbs, roots and seeds to infuse in order to have a satisfying cup o’ chai. Solution! Chai tea concentrate, I make a big gallon jug and every time I want a chai it’s as easy as heating it up with a bit of cream or almond milk, or splashing it over some ice cubes. Chai concentrate is also a great gift idea for the tea lovers in your life. When you make it from scratch you don’t have to worry about insane amounts of high fructose corn syrup and all that nonsense.
When I was travelling in India, almost everything seemed centered around chai, life itself seemed to unfold amidst chai stalls. I always wished that we had something like that back home. There is a sense of community and like mindedness incomparable to that of our modern melting pot of a country. Coming back to a cold city where nobody seems to stop, let alone sit together and drink a nourishing tea was a whole new culture shock. Starbucks just doesn’t compare to the feeling you get on the streets of India, where everyone drinks chai together almost ceremoniously. The chai is especially amazing when they serve it in those little clay cups, because they again meld back with the earth.
If you love authentic tasting chai but don’t feel like getting all the separate spices and grinding them, well I’ll tell you, it’s worth it! But you can also buy absolutely exquisite chai masala powder from my friend Jess’s Etsy shop, she learned the craft in India and her stuff is the real deal. You can use it to make a big jug filled with chai concentrate or you can just make a bit at a time.
Your house will smell like magic…all your neighbours and friends may just appear out of nowhere. I love to let the chai simmer on low for at least an hour to really get the whole house smelling like a chai walla.
Medicinal Benefits of Chai
The ingredients in chai have all sorts of medicinal aspects. Together they are a powerhouse of nourishment. These are just some of the benefits you get when indulging in this healing elixir.
- Calms the mind
- Improves digestion
- Stimulates circulation
- High in antioxidants
- Balances blood sugar
- 15 cardamom pods, gently crushed
- 20 whole black peppercorns
- 20 whole cloves
- 8-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced
- 6-8 cinnamon sticks
- 12 whole allspice (optional)
- 6 star anise
- 1 vanilla bean, sliced down the middle or 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp. nutmeg (optional)
- ⅓ C worth of assam black tea OR roobios OR yerba mate
- ¾ C honey or coconut sugar (optional)
- 1½ Gallons (5.7L) of water
- Use a coffee/spice grinder or a mortar and pestle to grind everything together aside from the nutmeg,vanilla and tea.
- Bring 1½ Gallons (5.7L) of water to a boil in a large pot.
- Add ground spices and let simmer uncovered for about an hour.
- Turn off the heat and add your preferred tea, nutmeg and vanilla. Cover for 5 minutes.
- Strain mixture into another large vessel, preferably using a fine mesh or cheesecloth, nut milk bags work very well too.
- Add sugar or honey and stir well. Allow the tea to cool before transferring to the fridge.
- Mix with half milk, almond milk or water when serving.