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D.I.Y. Kitchen: chai tea

April 16, 2012

It’s a cold, cloudy day, the kind that allows you to catch your breath in the middle of unbridled spring euphoria. The apricot blossoms have withered away, revealing the secret of tiny green fruits. Plums are up next. Col and I are on the couch flipping through a book on bats.

Rose is twirling around the stage of our living room, a crown of barrettes attached to her head. She belts out the Cat Stevens song, “if you want to sing out, sing out/if you want to be free, be free/there’s a million ways to be/you know that there are” like she’s been nominated spokesperson of the new Facebook group, I had a Hippie Childhood. “Watch me guys!” She twirls on the tile floor. “What should I sing next – Corner Grocery Store or Yellow Submarine?”

Col chooses Yellow Submarine and Rose warbles out, tunelessly, the first few bars, swaying and giggling around the living room like her and Cat Stevens shared a smoke in the park. Then she freezes. “Don’t watch me,” she says, suddenly horrified. And instead of saying, “wait – aren’t you the most enthusiastic member of your own fan club?” Col and I turn back to the bat book.

There’s the greater fruit bat (5 foot wingspan!), the vampire bat (eats blood!), the fisherman bat (eats fish!), and our very own little brown bat (actual proper name: little brown bat) who flaps above our backyard barbecues like a late guest hurrying to arrive.

“There’s so many bats,” Col sighs happily.

There’s a million ways to be/you know that there are,” Rose pipes in.

Which is how I feel about motherhood, and life, and chai. Whoa. Chai. Did I pull that transition off okay?

And really, there are a million ways to prepare chai. My chai recipe is simple and tastes like sweet and spicy met at the altar of your stove. This recipe has 4 ingredients (not including honey or black tea) and I make it in huge batches so I can have more jars in my fridge and because it lasts for weeks.

Do you drink chai? I’m in love with its bold flavors, its creaminess and its sneaky medicinal value. These herbs, together, are a digestive powerhouse; also circulatory and anti-viral.

the whole gang

Chai Tea

(makes 1 1/2 gallons)

cinnamon chips 2 0z

cardamom pods 20z

ginger, chopped 2 oz

cloves 1oz

black or green tea, 5 tbsp or 8 tea bags

1 cup honey (or more…or less…there’s a million ways to be…)

1 1/2 gallons water

1) Simmer (don’t boil) herbs in 1 1/2 gallons of water for 1 1/2 hours, but not more (the longer you simmer, the more the cloves take their cloveness to the next dimension, which is not necessarily a good thing)

2) At end of simmer, turn off heat, stir in honey and black tea. Steep tea for 5-10 minutes. Strain and bottle in fridge. Lasts for 3 weeks.

3) Important: when warming up chai to drink, mix it with equal parts milk (cow, goat, yak, rice, soy) to creamify, mellow and complement the chai.

tea bags high-fiving

for the love of jars!

29 Comments leave one →
  1. teresa permalink
    April 16, 2012 8:05 am

    yes!! we love chai around here… and this is such a simple recipe compared to some of the others that i have tried. thank you!

  2. April 16, 2012 8:41 am

    since when did ‘psychic’ enter your job description? on queu in my posts is a chai post….i am addicted to ‘bakhti chai’ which means that my children will have to forfeit a college education at 11 bucks a bottle. started formulating myself and got hung up on juicing ginger! does buying a 200 dollar juicer seem reasonable….nooooo! i was waiting on the thrifting gods to intervene and hello you! can’t wait! i like mine super spicy! super spicy! and not sweet at all….there are a million ways to be!

    thank you dear!

    tell col that we’re batty over here, too! and narwhal-y and zombie-ish………

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      April 16, 2012 11:37 am

      Ivey, juicing ginger? That’s crazy talk. Maybe increase the ginger portion, throw in small handful of peppercorns, omit half the honey and see how that works. Love, Your psychic friend

  3. April 16, 2012 8:49 am

    I love that….yak milk. I just happened to have some! You are so inspiring to me. I haven’t made the other cold elixer you told us about but it’s on my mind and now this will be too. My in-laws used to travel to Nepal every year and every time we’d go to their house the first thing they would ask is, “would you like some chai?” or then “would you like some wine?” We use the tea bags for chai now. Our kids are kind of hooked on chai. All these ingrdients are easy peasy to get! Do you cut up your cinnamon? I’ve never heard of cinnomon chips.


    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      April 16, 2012 11:39 am

      Kyndale, I get my ingredients at our local herb shop, but I bet you could get them at a natural food store too, in the bulk herb section. I buy the cinnamon in chips, which are so delightful you sort of want to roll in them first, but if you can only find the sticks, perhaps there is way to break them into a few smaller pieces. xo

  4. Melissa permalink
    April 16, 2012 10:58 am

    we just finally made yogurt yesterday but i think it’s a bit runny (i seem to remember something about pasteurized milk making it so? i will have to scroll back) so maybe one day we will make chai . . .

    every time we play cat stevens, avi perks up, “oh, they have this song at my school!” i love it when i hear him singing to himself, “oh, mama, mama see me, mama mama see me (fill in the blank).” good stuff.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      April 16, 2012 11:52 am

      Avi, you go on with your little Jewish hippie school!

      Runny yogurt troubleshoot: “ultra” pasteurized milk no good, simply pasteurized fine didn’t get long enough to culture temps too cold

  5. April 16, 2012 11:33 am

    Whoah. Chai by the gallon. I have always made it in wan and insipid quantities. “Makes 3 cups”. Personally, I chuck the cloves in a bit later, because I am afraid of them, but I do love the sound of the black peppercorns raining down into the pot. Not to, ahem, suggest my own recipe.
    In other news, last week, I put a chicken in the slow cooker. All by itself, with nothing for company but enough salt and pepper to make it look like I had dropped it on the floor. Amazing, and at the bottom of the pot? Chicken stock! Crock pot chicken stock, as prescribed by Dr. Seuss.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      April 17, 2012 11:17 am

      There is nothing that makes me feel wealthier than chicken stock in the freezer (okay, also packages of elk and tomato sauce and chokecherry jam). Sigh. What a life.

  6. coleen permalink
    April 16, 2012 12:11 pm

    Love Cat Stevens!!!

  7. April 16, 2012 2:05 pm

    Hurray! I actually have all ingredients on hand!

  8. Anonymous permalink
    April 16, 2012 2:32 pm

    This recipe is soooo up my alley! We drink chai loose leaf teas every morning, with no milk. (The hubby hates milk.) Mostly oolong, mate and rooibos. Then we re-steep and keep our fridge stocked with the most amazing iced teas. More jars in the fridge, right?
    I have some awesome black tea leaves that are a perfect match for your recipe. I can’t wait to try this!

  9. April 16, 2012 5:37 pm

    Oh yeah. I loooove chai.

  10. Anonymous permalink
    April 16, 2012 10:13 pm

    thanks for your musical links. have listened to feelin good again 20 times at least and the cat stevens song sums it all up…

  11. Tammy permalink
    April 17, 2012 6:41 am

    Oh this is lovely! I shall give it a go someday, but for now, this is my yummy cheat:
    I buy it right here in Vermont and brew it almost daily – we’ve gotten quite spoiled!
    Thanks for the cozy post!

  12. Melissa permalink
    April 17, 2012 7:13 am

    Oh, goodness, thank you for this! I have tried on a few different occasions to make chai, which seems like something one must do if they have an entire drawer dedicated exclusively to Indian spices. Unfortunately, it has been a disappointment every time. I know this will be just right! Question: I have never seen cinnamon chips – are they just smaller chunks of cinnamon bark? Do you suppose sticks would work just as well?

    I keep drooling over the jars of fermenting ginger ale in my kitchen. Can’t wait to open those, and am looking forward to having some chai to hold me over!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      April 17, 2012 9:53 am

      yay for the fermenting ginger ale! And cinnamon sticks should work fine, maybe break into a few smaller pieces if you can. xo

      • April 18, 2012 12:57 pm

        put ’em in a paper bag and whack ’em with a hammer. Works! swear!

  13. teresa permalink
    April 17, 2012 8:02 pm

    so this is going to expose my lack of exact measuring devices in my house… but can you please translate the ingredients list to tablespoon-ish amounts for me and my scale free kitchen? thanks mama!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      April 18, 2012 6:54 am

      2 ounces in weight = approximately, roughly, guessingly, 1/2 cup.

      • teresa permalink
        April 18, 2012 7:50 am

        thanks rachel! (approximately, roughly, guessingly is totally how i measure. i think that is why i fail at baking often! ha ha)

  14. Crystal permalink
    April 17, 2012 9:10 pm

    Thank you for the recipe–I love Chai! Can’t wait to give it a try.

  15. April 17, 2012 11:32 pm

    ok. i’ve never tried chai. i have blinders on when it comes to espresso and frothy milk. should i try it? hmm. i have a great buddy coming to visit next week who loves chai and loves time in a kitchen. thanks for this — it’ll be the perfect visit now.

  16. April 18, 2012 10:37 am

    Fondly I recall “Chai Day” at Hummingbird Herbals. :) I’ve been wanting to revisit that recipe for years. Thanks fur it!

  17. Rachel permalink
    April 18, 2012 4:39 pm

    Harold and Maude is one of my very favorite movies and reading this post made me realized that I somehow have never sung this song to my daughter…until now. Thank you!

  18. April 19, 2012 12:11 pm

    I love this recipe. I have been using chai concentrates, and while I like them there is so much sugar. This sounds wonderful, and I can not wait to try it.

  19. April 24, 2012 12:51 pm

    the best thing i’m taking away from this is the quantity. chai IN QUANTITY. yessssss!!!!


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