While "chai" actually means tea, we're used to a blend of spices, often brewed with milk, referred to as masala chai. Some of the chai mixes you find in the grocery store can be loaded with extra sugar and ingredients you can't pronounce, but making your own spice blend and sweetening it with honey, agave or maple syrup is easy! You can omit any of the flavors you don't prefer, but here are our recommendations for a familiar blend of spices:
The flavor most prominent in chai is green cardamom. Still in their pods, the flavor is smoky and spicy. We also recommend fennel seed, whole cloves, fresh ginger or ginger powder if that's what's available to you, whole coriander, peppercorns, star anise and whole cinnamon sticks. Our bulk section has all of these items available and it's a much less expensive way to buy spices than from the baking aisle.
To brew your own masala chai at home you will need:
3/4 cup water 2-4 whole green cardamom pods, smashed 1-2 thin slices fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon powdered 1 1-inch cinnamon stick 1 piece star anise 4-5 peppercorns 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds 4-5 whole cloves 3/4 cup milk (or milk alternative) 1 1/2 teaspoons loose black tea leaves
In a small saucepan, combine everything except the milk and tea. Bring the mixture to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for a few minutes until the mixture is fragrant. Add the milk and tea leaves, and simmer for another minute then turn off the heat and let steep for 2 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve and discard the tea and spices. Add honey, maple syrup or agave to taste.