Ginger Scented Chai

Also published on A Nice Cuppa

When was your first chai? Was it a concentrate Tazo concoction at Starbucks? Or, slow-brewed and lightly sweetened at a fine Indian restaurant? I remember falling in love with the spicy honey infused cup at a small Indian restaurant in a strip mall in Boulder, Colorado. The tea was a perfect match for all the rich flavors of the masala in the meal, and despite dining at 9 at night, I’d slurp down cupfuls finding myself wide awake and bursting with ideas at two in the morning. At only 20 years old, the late nights were rarely a problem. Many years later, I rediscovered chai at a local cafe and became quickly addicted once again. Oregon Chai, Tazo, Morning Glory, it really didn’t matter as long as it was balanced with perfect microfoam to mellow the harsh edge of sweetness. Grande Chai Tea Latte was my morning drink of choice for years. But in all that time, I never got around to making it at home, somehow convincing myself that it was too time consuming to get it right.

As I was flipping through one of my many cookbooks, this one Dishing with Style which combines the art of food styling with delicious recipes for entertaining, I stumbled upon a gorgeous photo of homemade Ginger Chai and sheepishly realized it is stunningly simple to make. If I can boil water and stir, I can make chai. So, despite having given up chai over a year ago (all that sugar!), I couldn’t resist and in 20 minutes I was curled up on the couch sipping. The good news is making it at home at least lets me control the amount and type of sugar. Once again, chai has a place in my life… maybe not as an everyday drink, but as the perfect rainy day cozying up with a good book drink.

Ginger Chai
(adapted from Dishing with Style by Rori Trovato)
Makes two cups

1 square inch of fresh or frozen ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1 or 2 star anise (with more for garnish if desired)
1/2 t orange zest
a dash of ground cardamom
2 T honey
1 T loose black tea
milk

Peel the ginger, and cut the cube into 2 pieces. Place the ginger, cinnamon, anise, orange zest, cardamom and honey into a heavy bottomed pot. Fill the cup you will be using with water twice and add to the pot. Bring to a boil, stirring. Then, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the lid, and add the loose tea. Stirring, increase the heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add enough milk, a little at a time, to achieve the desired caramel color. Strain through a fine sieve and serve hot.

For a chai latte, the strained mixture can be steamed to 140F.

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  • http://www.bakingandbooks.com Ari (Baking and Books)

    I generally hate ginger, but I love chai… and I love inventive drinks… so I may just give this one a go, thanks for the recipe. :)

  • http://www.sycamorereview.com reba

    what gorgeous cups! where are they from?

  • http://www.stoneafterstone.com anna maria

    Thank you for posting that. I love the “idea” of chai, but the ones I tried at Tully’s or Starbucks were way too sweet for me. So I am looking forward to trying your recipe.

  • http://maegabriel.com/riceandnoodles Mae

    It’s oh so gorgeous to look at, L. Nice use of star anise as garnish too.

  • http://www.cookandeat.com/ L

    Ari – The cool thing about making your own chai is that you can add in whatever mix you like. Leave out the ginger, add more cardamom, it’s up to you!

    Reba – Thanks! Bea (yes, La Tartine Bea!) gave them to me. They are beautiful!

    Anna Marie – yes, I agree with the ones at Tully’s and Starbucks being way too sweet. I always asked for mine with only half of the chai mix to help cut it. But, I think making it at home makes it just perfect.

    Mae – Thanks! I had been wanting to do something to use some star anise for quite a while now… this seemed like the perfect fit.

    -L

  • http://akookycookie.blogspot.com akookycookie

    i luv this picture its so pretty and i luv chai too, keep on blogging!