The smell of homemade chai brewing on the stovetop is definitely one of the things I love most about the fall.
My kids start asking for chai as the temp gets chilly and the pumpkins start to appear. We have made it a family ritual to drink chai in the fall and it feels good for so many reasons. The chai teas that you get out are way too sugary for us so making it at home keeps the deliciousness but skips the scoops of white sugar that make us sick.
First off the spices in chai- cinnamon, pepper, cardamom, and ginger are all herbal stimulants, which mean they enliven and warm the body. This is perfect for the fall when things are getting cold and slow. They are all also herbal digestives and carminatives which both help with overall digestion and gas. Cloves also have antibacterial component which is perfect for this time of year when colds are common. There are many phytochemicals, or unique plant constituents, that are powerful health allies in each of the herbs in chai.
I am not one for a recipe per say but here is our basic formula that I tweak daily depending what we want more of that day (spice, caffeine, etc). You can start here and vary things as you and your family like.
- 20 cups of filtered water
- 2 tablespoons of whole cardamom pods
- 2 tablespoons of whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon of whole peppercorns
- 1 inch of sliced ginger
- 2 tablespoons of loose leaf black tea or rooibos tea if wanting caffeine free (you can use tea bags too)
- honey to taste
- your favorite milk if wanted (we use full fat organic coconut milk, homemade almond milk, or raw whole milk)
Put the water on the stove on high.
When this is heating up grind the dry spices in a spice grinder briefly, just to break them down a bit not to powder. You can use a coffee grinder designated just for spices/nuts (this is a crucial tool I use almost daily in my house). I usually snap the cinnamon stick in half first or grind it separately.
Reduce heat when boiling to medium and add spices.
Add sliced ginger.
Let this brew on the stovetop on medium low anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour (because sometimes I need to wait for the right time with busy mornings).
Take off heat and add black tea (or rooibos). You can also skip tea and just go with herbs. Let steep an additional 5 minutes or so if adding tea.
I strain this into a large bowl using a large muslin herb bag (see photo). You can also put the spices into this kind of bag before you add them to the water so you can take it right out. That is much easier I just like watching the herbs float around in the pot. A third option is a mesh strainer like this one at the end.
Pour into cups. Add honey to taste. Add warmed milk to taste (I add a heavy splash but not too much). You can make it fancier by steaming your milk but we don’t find it necessary. ENJOY
Keep extra chai tea in mason jar in the fridge to warm up when someone needs a soothing cup of fall goodness.