Homemade Chai with Fresh Herbs
I am busy testing recipes for my latest cookbook Infusing Flavors (forthcoming June 2016)! This morning, I tested a delicious version of homemade chai that I infused with spices and fresh herbs. I think it’s my favorite recipe so far in the Tea and Tisane chapter. If you think chai comes in a box, you’ve got to try making it from scratch. You’ll be blown away. It’s spicy, sweet and herbaceous!
Chai with Fresh Herbs
Chai is simply the word for tea in many parts of the world. These days it’s become synonymous with the sweet, spicy milk tea of India.
Serves 2 to 3
1 ceylon cinnamon stick
3/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
3 cardamom pods
2 segments of star anise pod
1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons brown sugar, or more to taste
2 cups water
2 teaspoons or bags strong black tea such as Assam
4 to 6 fresh holy basil or mint leaves, torn
1 cup whole milk, coconut milk, or soy milk
Combine cinnamon stick, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, and star anise in a mortar and crush slightly. Don’t make them into a powder. Alternately you can combine the spices in a sandwich bag and crush lightly with a mallet or the back of a spoon.
Pour the spices into a small saucepan. Add the ginger, brown sugar, and water. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes.
Remove from heat. Add tea bags and steep 5 minutes. Remove tea bags.
Return the pan to the heat. Add milk and herbs and heat tea just to simmer over high heat, whisking until sugar dissolves. Strain chai into mugs and serve hot.
Note: Ceylon cinnamon has a milder, sweeter flavor than cassia cinnamon.