Masala chai is a spiced tea popular in India and now in North America as well. We have shortened the name to chai here but that word actually just means tea. Masala is the spice mixture added to the “chai” to make the drink we have come to love. It is basically a spiced, sweetened tea mixed with milk. It is sold all over India by chai wallahs (tea vendors) who pour the tea from huge kettles into small cups.
It can now be bought here commercially in many coffee shops, but it is so much better to make at home – and it’s easy. The very best chai I have had has been made in small batches in a big pot heated on the stove. The tea used was loose and the spices fresh. Delicious.
But this post is about my newest obsession, an instant masala chai spice mix that can be brewed in a matter of minutes. Most masala spice mixes contain ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, and sometimes fennel and star anise. I sourced my spices from a local health food store, so I know they are the freshest I can find. I proportioned the spices the way the recipe suggested and then mixed them all together. I now have a large jar full of this aromatic goodness that can be made into fresh chai in an instant.
To brew one cup I use the tea cup I will be drinking from to measure 3/4 of a cup of water into a saucepan and then add 1/4 of a cup of milk. I add a teabag and 1/4 tsp of my chai masala mixture and bring the whole thing to a boil. As soon as it boils, I turn off the heat and let it rest for a minute or so. I pour the steaming chai through a fine sieve directly into my cup. I add the sugar at the very end. It really does need sugar if you want the more authentic drink.
Voilà, chai in five minutes or less. And a whole jar of spice mixture waiting for the next cups. How good is that?