Recipe, article and photos by Gayle Hurmuses
I love chai, but am not a fan of commercial blends, preferring to make my own. This recipe is my personal blend.
Make sure to always buy the freshest spices you can get. They do last quite a while at some level, but you’ll notice the difference as soon as you get something fresh and new. I had this brought home to me last year at SIAL Canada where I tasted spices that were directly off of plantations. The difference between these and my ‘pretty fresh’ spices was dramatic.
Also, be sure that you are using genuine cinnamon, which has many feathery layers curling around each other like a crinoline, where cassia, which can legally be sold as cinnamon, but isn’t really the same thing, has only the single thick layer. There are huge flavour differences, and cassia does not have the health benefits of true cinnamon. I enjoy having the vanilla in the cup as well, but it’s an expensive indulgence and the tea is still good without it. My standard tea for this is orange pekoe, but Earl Grey blends an also be a nice addition.
These instructions in this recipe are for making a single pot of chai, but since the biggest amount of bother with making the tea is getting all the ingredients assembled, I make enough for 20 pots of tea at a time and keep it all in individual snack bags. If you keep pinch pots or small fruit dishes, those are great to use as receptacles for the spices both for containing the ingredients and for preparing the mixtures before putting them into the bags.