Commonly called Chai tea by westerners, a name which is kind of like saying ATM Machine, Masala Chai or Chai is a distinctive style of milk-based tea consumed through-out the Indian sub-continent and into southeast Asia. Chai has a warm spice note in combination with the heat and soothing properties from the warmed milk that make it very relaxing to consume. In India, chai is consumed at any time and weather. It is not only consumed with meals but is also commonly served to customer in shops (such as jewelry stores) or purchased from roadside vendors called chai wallahs. This drink is incredibly simple to make and is the perfect drink for a cold winter day. The recipe I am following was taught to me by my wife (who is from India), who learned it from her mother (who still lives in India). It is a more simple, everyday, home version of the chai encountered in Indian restaurants.
For those who are looking for a fun and easy alternative to the traditional holiday drinks. Try adding cinnamon and nutmeg to the ginger and cardamom for a festive, rich and warming holiday drink.
Step 1: Items Needed
-A small pot
-A tea strainer (or some other wire mesh strainer)
-Chai Tea Leaves - these are a special type of strong tea leaf where the tea leaves are cured in a way whichs causes them to curl up into a ball. These can easily be found at your local Indo/Pak grocery store for around $3-6/box (enough to last more than a year of daily tea making). They look a lot like peppercorns in the image I posted. Some common brands are Taj Mahal and Red Label.
Milk - whole milk tastes better but skim is acceptable
-Sweetener - take your pick. You can use pretty much anything which can provide sweetness and withstand the heat. You can use sugar, brown sugar, molasses, Splenda, jaggery (a type of unprocessed brown sugar block commonly used in rural India) or any other sweeter of your choice.
-Spices - The spices used in chai vary greatly depending on the region and how complex or simple you want to make it. The spices used vary from rose to salt to fennel seeds and more. For a simple route to a more complex chai; you can purchase a Masala Chai Spice mix at most Indo/Pak. In this instructable we will be making a more simple homemade version so we will be using either ginger root or cardamom (green or black is acceptable). The cardamom (like most other spices) can be purchased pretty inexpensively once again from your local Indo/Pak grocery store, especially in comparison to the cost of spices at American grocery stores. Do not substitute cadamom powder, it doesn't have near the flavor and it won't strain out as nicely.