These days I find it difficult to believe that in the not-so-distant-past I didn’t like tea.
I was a coffee drinker through and through. In fact, I could count on one hand the number of days on which I’d not had a coffee since the age of about eight years old. I even remember my first coffee, free from the Nescafe promo stand on the beach at Terrigal.
But after spending two weeks accompanying some tea-loving English journalists around Australia, I picked up the habit. I still had my daily coffee but soon the tea bag began to outweigh the coffee bean!
And then, sometime during my trip around the world last year, I suspect in Tibet, I managed to kick an almost 20-year caffeine addiction and I stopped drinking coffee.
So by the time I got to India, I was super excited to be able to drink masala chai (spicy tea) as if it were on tap.
Masala chai is India’s national drink – you can buy it on trains, in cafes and on the street. It’s not just tasty, but comforting too. So naturally, when I got back to Sydney I decided I wanted to re-create it and I thought I’d share my recipe with you.
Authentic chai recipe
Makes 1 cup
You can play around with the spices in this recipe and the suggested amounts, or even try crushing them in a mortar and pestle. I just throw them in to the pot whole.
4 – 5 cardamon pods
1/4 teaspoon of fennel seeds
a few pinches of ground ginger (or a slice of whole ginger)
3 – 4 black peppercorns
1 or 2 sticks of cinnamon
(One recipe I was given in India suggests adding cloves. Didn’t work for me but might for you. You could also add star anise or nutmeg.)
2 teaspoons of Darjeeling or Ceylon loose-leaf tea
3/4 cup of water + extra for evaporation
1/4 cup of full cream milk
Heat your milk and water in a small pot on the stovetop.
Add the cardamon, fennel seeds, ginger, peppercorns and cinnamon. You might like to cover the pot to get it to boil faster – keep an eye on it though because it will boil over.
Once the mix begins to boil, add the tea. The longer you boil it the stronger it will be. About 5 minutes or slightly longer is ideal.
(It will also be stronger than regular tea no matter what you do because of the boiling process. I don’t advise you have this before bed!)
Let it sit off the heat for a couple of minutes, and then pour into a cup using a tea-strainer.