When the weather gets cold, one of our family’s favorite things to drink is chai. Homemade chai costs so much less than the pre-made stuff, and it also makes the house smell divine.

Chai actually just means tea in general, so saying “chai tea” is redundant. The best term for it is masala chai.

Most chai is made with real tea, which has caffeine in it, but we make a caffeine-free version so the kids aren’t bouncing off of the walls… We also make ours with soy milk instead of cow’s milk.

Homemade Masala Chai Recipe:

  • 2 teaspoons (8 to 10) cardamom pods (the big green ones) You can also just use cardamom seeds if you can’t find the pods.
  • 4 sticks of cinnamon
  • 1 star anise, broken into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 to 6 whole black peppercorns (more for spicier tea)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon orange peel, grated (fresh or dried)
  • 1 tablespoon cut licorice root
  • 1 tablespoon dried peppermint
  • ground nutmeg or allspice to taste (1 teaspoon)
  • 1 inch of a vanilla bean, chopped (optional, can add vanilla extract instead)
  • 1/4 cup black or green tea leaves if desired
  • 4 cups milk or soy milk
  • 1/4 cup honey or turbinado sugar

Fill a saucepan or stock pot with 4 cups of water and add all of the spice ingredients except the tea leaves. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes (longer for stronger flavor). Add the tea leaves for the last five minutes.

Strain, add 4 cups of soy or cow’s milk, reheat for a minute and then add the sweetener. Makes about 8 cups of tea.

Serve hot, with a twist of lemon if you like. Chai goes great with dessert, or you can skip the coffee in the morning and warm up with chai instead.

If you’re entertaining guests, heat the spices on the stove to fill your house with an inviting aroma.

Enjoy!

Image: wonderferret at Flickr under Creative Commons

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