Actually, the word chai is kinda redundant, since in Hindi, chai = tea. However, in America, chai has become synonymous with a specific set of flavors mixed together in a somewhat sweet milk based tea. And while I LOVE Starbuck’s tea lattes (especially the London Fog one, before which I never thought I’d ever like earl gray tea), I don’t like paying $3.30 each time I want one. This way takes a little bit of time, but I would argue is much better than what you’d get at Starbucks, and probably slightly more authentic. Not sure about the specific way to make it, but this is what I do that makes a fairly yummy serving of tea:
Ingredients (for two servings):
16 oz. milk
2 tbsp. fine quality black tea (I have some assam tea my dad brought back to me from one of his recent trips to India)
decent sized pinch each of cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger (can be altered to reflect your tastes)
1. In a small saucepan, heat up milk on med-high heat, stirring often enough so that it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan.
2. Once it is steaming, add in all your tea ingredients. You can do this from the beginning, it doesn’t really matter, the tea doesn’t release it’s flavor until it’s hot anyways.
3. Keep at steaming (don’t let it boil) for another minute or two, until it gets a little frothy.
4. Pour in a teapot with a filter for loose leaf tea. Keep steeping until desired strength. Fill your travel mug, or serve and enjoy!
You will notice I don’t have any sweetener in here. If you need a little something, feel free to add in some honey or some sugar in the raw (I’ve found plain old white sugar just doesn’t taste the same). According to one of my best friends who has a lot of family in India, traditionally, chai is not served as a sweetened beverage – though if you look at this wikipedia article here, it appears it is. Maybe someone can clear this up for me.
Now I have a beautiful delicious chai tea latte, for what – $.50 instead of $3.30. Not bad!
This probably did not take any longer than it would take to stop at a Starbucks, order my drink, pay, and then wait for my drink to be made. Haha, it always makes me laugh any time I go into a Starbucks with a drive through, I will get out of my car and walk in and order, and by the time I get my drink and leave, the car that was at the end of the line in the drive through has only moved up like 2 spots and STILL hasn’t even ordered yet. I love how people automatically think drive-through = convenience, when a lot of the time it can leave you waiting even longer than if you just took the effort to park the car and walk in. Ha oh well, sometimes people just make me laugh.
Note – I usually try not to go to Starbucks, because their coffee is often over-roasted, and it’s a big chain that doesn’t understand how to properly expand their franchise without losing business, and has a history of issues with environmentally friendly practices despite their “crunchy granola atmosphere”, though I do have to admit they are trying somewhat. But they STILL don’t even have compostable coffee cups! Even the small local chains here have no problem selling coffee in 100% biodegradable single use cups. I much prefer to go to local chains instead and put money into the local economy here – except when I want a tea latte, because no local place makes them yet, sadly.
Oh comment on the teapot – I bought it a couple of weeks ago at Origins for $6. It’s so cute and I love the bright and happy yellow color!