Continuing on an Indian kick, over the holidays I decided to home-make some Chai tea. I originally got the idea from here.

beautiful Indian spices fresh out of the oven

On Spices: Homemade chai tea does involve purchasing many spices (it’s best if you have a place to buy bulk spices – like Chelsea Market! But, if you don’t, you can also buy it online). Once I discovered how cheap bulk spices were, I have never ever gone back to buying spices at the grocery store – what a ripoff!

m & p vs. spice grinder

Grinding all the spices: I borrowed a friend’s (thanks Eunice!) mortar and pestle. Jamie Oliver actually taught me how to use it after I ignorantly started pounding haphazardly and everything went flying. I actually spent maybe over 3 hours pounding down and grinding spices – not easy when you live in a studio apartment with people below you.  Although, I must admit that I did octuple the recipe to give some of the mix away to various people, otherwise I would not have had to work for so long. I actually ended up making a second batch (whose quantity I did not have to multiply) and this time, I bought and used a ceramic spice grinder. Waaaay easier and what a cool tool – a quality grinder is cheaper than a quality mortar & pestle, and the one I bought has a cover to hold in all the ground spices, making much less of a mess. I must say I am very satisfied with my purchase. Oh, also the most difficult task was grinding the cinnamon – DO NOT put your cinnamon sticks into your spice grinder – they may destroy it! Luckily I looked this up, so instead I used my handheld lemon squeezer (you could use anything heavy and mallet-like) to first break the cinnamon sticks and then a rolling pin to crush them into pieces.

Chai Tea Mix Recipe
Makes about 12-16 teabags

12 green cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon whole red peppercorns (optional)
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1 4-inch cinnamon stick
3 tablespoons chopped candied ginger
1/2 cup loose black tea

Preheat oven to 350°

With a sharp knife, split the cardamom pods in half. Place in a pie tin (not sure why it calls specifically for a pie tin, but I had one so I just went along with it) along with the peppercorns, fennel, coriander, cloves and cinnamon. Toast in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the spices are fragrant. Remove and cool.

Crush spices lightly with a rolling pin or in a mortar and pestle. You may have to crumble the cinnamon stick with your hands.

In a bowl, toss the spices, candied ginger and tea together until blended.

Spoon into your container of choice (mason jar, cello or parchment or waxed paper bags, vintage tea tin, etc.) Include fillable tea bags and brewing instructions. Alternatively, you can fill each tea bag with approximately 1 tablespoon of the chai mix and tie it loosely to close. (But that’s a lot of work if you’re making several batches!)

Brewing Instructions
tea for one

1 cup of water
1/2 cup of milk
1 tablespoon of Chai Mix placed into a tea bag
Sugar or honey to taste

Bring the water to a boil and add the teabag. Turn off the heat and let steep for about 5 minutes. Add the milk, turn on the flame and reheat until hot. Remove from heat, discard teabag, sweeten to taste, enjoy!

Thoughts: I really like the use of ginger; it gives a great, powerful aroma to the tea. I think the recipe is a little heavy on the fennel though, so next time I will use less. Otherwise, I love it. Luckily, I now have all the spices so I will always have a stash of homemade chai tea to sip on.