My (Masala) Chai

Makes 6 cups in 15 minutes

Craving the flavors of cinnamon and ginger, without the batter of flour, sugar, and butter those gingerbread kids bring to the table?

Then meet My Chai! This is a traditional masala chai (spiced tea) recipe that I picked up in India and have been making ever since. It’s the perfect blend of aromatic and medicinal spices, steeped with black tea, “milk” and just a little of the sweetener of your choice.

Of course, East Indians consider the cow sacred, and its milk has always been added to classic chai. But for those wishing to avoid the lactose and allergens (casein and whey) in cow’s milk, then almond and coconut milk are delicious options. Be sure to refrigerate any left for the next day!

Ginger root, 2 inch long piece, cut into thin slices
3 sticks cinnamon
10 whole cloves
7 cardamom pods (or 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds)
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
6 cups water
4 bags Darjeeling tea (or English Breakfast tea will do)
1 tablespoon organic heavy cream or ¼ cup of almond or coconut milk
1-2 teaspoons organic brown sugar, coconut or agave nectar *

Gather and prep the ingredients. Combine the cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom pods and peppercorns in a large saucepan and smash with a spoon or muddler to release their flavor. Add the water and sliced ginger and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes (the longer you simmer, the stronger it gets). Add the tea bags and remove from heat. In 5 minutes, strain into a teapot. Then, add the milk and sweetener of your choice and serve hot.

If you’re one of those people who can’t get enough heat, then feel free to add a pinch of cayenne. On the other hand, if you can’t stand any heat, just reduce the amount of black peppercorns; but don’t eliminate them completely as they contribute important flavor and health benefits. To learn about the health benefits of these herbs read my blog, "The Spice of Life".

* Sweeten to taste with brown sugar or coconut nectar, which have a lower glycemic index and fructose than agave nectar but still only about 20 calories per teaspoon. Stevia and Lou Han Zho (two herbal sweeteners) contain no calories but still have a sweet flavor.

Sally LaMont, ND, LAc