The Healing Power of Chai

It’s official: we survived Hurricane Sandy! After sitting inside a one-bedroom apartment with my cat and significant other for something like 60 hours, I needed out. Laptop packed, raincoat donned, we trekked out for lunch and work to rejoin the land of the living.

Thanks to Dominion Power for keeping the lights on so that Busboys and Poets could make me a perfectly warm, frothy, cinnamon-y chai latte. Chai is my coffee alternative; it gives a light caffeine kick that’s more mellow than coffee and certainly more comforting.

Tomorrow it’s back to work, but today, perhaps I’ll try my hand at making my own chai. I like this post by Crunchy Betty on the art of homemade chai:

Crunchy Betty’s Favorite Chai Recipe

Makes 8 cups of chai concentrate (or 16 mugs of concentrate mixed with the “milk” agent of your choice).

  • 7 cinnamon sticks, broken into smallish pieces
  • 8-10 cardamom pods (roasted and crushed/cracked)
  • 10-13 whole cloves
  • One healthy-sized piece of ginger root (approximately the length of a key or 2 to 2-1/2 inches), cut into small nickel-sized pieces
  • 3/4 to 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 vanilla beans (slice down the middle and scrape the beans into the pot before adding the outer casing) **(this ingredient is not necessary, and sometimes hard to find inexpensively, but I love it to pieces)
  • 9 cups of cold water
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons fennel seed (or anise seed) (do not add until you’ve taken the pot off the heat)
  • 3 Tablespoons black tea
  • Honey or evaporated cane juice
  • Milk product (milk, cream, soy milk, rice milk, or almond milk)

Throw all of the above into a large pot and add the water. Place your pot on the stove and crank up the heat until you get a nice, calm boil going. Pop on a lid and let it do its thing for 30 minutes (shorter for weaker tea, longer for stronger). Taste the chai a few times while you’re brewing – just remember that you’ll be adding the dark tea and fennel in a bit. But get a feel for what this particular batch of chai really needs. Feel free to add whatever you’d like as it strikes you. And feel free, when you lift off the lid, to sink to the floor in ecstasy when the delicious smell hits your nose.

After your boiling time has come to an end, take the pot off the burner and add the fennel seeds and black tea. Let this steep for 5 minutes (again, say it with me “shorter for weaker tea, longer for stronger”).

You should have a nice heavy mix of spices and tea going on by this point, so get your muscles prepared for the only hard part. Strain your mix over a wire-mesh sieve or cheese cloth and into an appropriately-sized container. Sometimes I will strain twice (wire mesh first, cheesecloth second) if my mixture seems to have more remnants than it should.

After you’ve cleared out all of the ingredients and are left with just the liquid, add your sweetener to taste. For a pot this size, I will use a quarter cup of honey and a half cup of evaporated cane juice, but I like my chai as sweet as I like it spicy. Dissolve this well.

Now fill your glass half full (or to the height of however chai-ey you want it) with the concentrate and fill the rest with your desired milk product. Stir. Inhale. Drink.

Thanks, Betty!


3 thoughts on “The Healing Power of Chai

  1. I love me some chai-tea, but I’m a little disappointed you haven’t given us an Election Day snack/drink/treat recipe – 😦

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