2 teaspoons loose tea, or two bags of unflavored tea
6-10 whole cloves
2 inch piece of cinnamon stick, broken
6-10 green cardamom pods, opened
2 teaspoons ginger peels, or four 1/10th of an inch ginger slices
2 teaspoons lemon grass(optional)
1 cup water and 1 cup milk (substitute water for milk, if you don't drink milk)
4 teaspoons of sugar
Put all ingredients in a pot that will allow for the mixture to come to a full boil. Bring to a full boil and then use a fine strainer to strain into teacups.
Makes about two 8oz cups of tea.
Note 1: Chai means “tea” in Hindi. If you ask for chai, you are asking for tea made with tea leaves, water and milk, sometimes sweetened.
Masala Chai, on the other hand, is tea made with tea leaves, water, milk and what we might call baking spices in the US, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and green cardamom. Green cardamom and lemon grass can be found in Indian and Chinese grocery stores. Use the spices you have handy, it is not necessary that you have all the spices every single time.
Note 2: I tend to drink Masala Chai without milk because I am lactose intolerant, so this recipe might be milder and sweeter with milk added. I sometimes use plain non-dairy creamer, if I want that traditional feel.
Note 3: I use ginger peels in my tea. I buy a hand of ginger from the store and wash it thoroughly. Then I peel it. I save the peels on a plate, in a place where I won't disturb it. It takes about 7 days for the peels to air dry in Oklahoma's dry weather. Then I put them in an air tight container. If the container starts showing droplets of moisture, the peels are not completely dry. I take them out again and air dry them for another 3-4 days. Depending on the moisture in the air, the peels should take 7-10 days to dry.
You can substitute fresh ginger slices for the peels, if you like. Use about two 1/10th of an inch per cup of tea you plan on making.
Especially when I have a cold, I increase the ginger in my tea. It helps to open up stuffed nasal passages.
Note 4: I don't throw away my tea ingredients after the first tea of the morning. If it turns out to be a cold day, I add more water to it and make more tea, that I drink through the day. I only throw them out the next day and start with a new batch of tea leaves and spices.
If making a new batch in the evening, start out with decaff tea or you are likely to be up late into the night.