Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Calling All Iced Chai Lovers

Calling all Iced Chai Lovers... It's time to get your drink ON.

But before we do that, it's time to play my favorite childhood game 'Name That Tune'... 

It's getting hot in here. So take off all your clothes.

(Yup, you guessed it. That's Nelly's famous hit Hot in Herre from 2002. Scroll down for the video. Press play now if you want the Hot in Herre soundtrack playing while you read the rest of this post.)

Removing all of one's clothing is certainly one approach for cooling off when the weather heats up. 

Another approach, and slightly more publicly acceptable in most circles, is to put your lips to an ice cold caffeinated beverage. 

Iced chai is incredibly addicting. It's cold. It's caffeinated. It's fiery. What else could you ask for in a morning mug?

With all of the fresh spices, it is a good-for-you health elixir full of antioxidant rich ingredients. And since you're making it at home, you can choose how much sugar you prefer, the amount of caffeine to include and what type of milk works best for you. 

And truly, the best part about homemade chai is the price. I began brewing my own chai at home to save money on fieldtrips to the coffee shop. When I finally calculated the actual cost of brewing my own chai at home I was shocked to discover that $1 would buy me a cup of this magic at home compared to $5 at the local coffeeshops.

Below is the step-by-step methodology for brewing my chai. The recipe I'm posting here is for my basic chai. From there I like to spice things up and play around a bit. Dance while I brew. Crank up the tunes. Pound some spices. Juice that ginger. 

The glory of making your own chai at home is that you get to do what you like. So take the recipe and make it your own. And then take a break, put your feet up, and enjoy the nectar of the early-rising gods.

Word to the wise—don't be making this recipe in your un-air-conditioned house at the height of the afternoon heat. Trust me on this one. If the house starts at 83 degrees at 3pm, just wait until the brew gets boiling. It will be 100 degrees in your kitchen by 3:23pm. And then you'll really be taking off all your clothes. I know from experience.

And now, the recipe. 

This recipe makes two quarts of chai concentrate (which stores in the refrigerator up to one week). When mixed 1:1 with your choice of milk—whole milk, soy milk or almond milk—the final number of servings is sixteen. 

Dance While You Cook's Masala Chai


cinnamon sticks, crushed into chips
3 TBS cardamom pods, crushed
2 TBS whole cloves
1 TBS fennel, crushed
   or 4 whole star anise
   or both
1 TBS whole black peppercorns
2 TBS chopped ginger, fresh or crystallized
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper, or less if spicy drinks aren't your thang
5 heaping TBS loose-leaf Assam black tea, caffeinated or decaf—whatever your preference
16 cups water
fresh nutmeg to taste

The Preparation Method:

Place the cinnamon chips, crushed cardamom, crushed fennel, cloves and black peppercorns in the base of a heavy stock pot. Dry roast them just until fragrant. To dry roast, simply turn the heat source to medium-high and stir the spices around until they release some of their magnificent aroma. Keep stirring so they do not burn. 

Once a little steam starts to rise from the roasted spices, pour in 8 cups of water.

Grab a hearty wooden spoon that will forevermore be your chai brewing spoon. Mark the water level with a knife. Cut a nice deep groove on the back of the spoon with a steak knife. This is important for later as you'll need to know when the mixture has reduced to half. 

Now pour in the remaining 8 cups of water. Turn heat to high.

Get ready to add the ginger. Use crystalized or fresh ginger here. Read about the difference on my post devoted to ginger here.

Chop the ginger and add it in. Stir to combine.

Bring to a rolling boil. Leave uncovered. Allow the brew to boil down to half. This usually takes about an hour for me.

Find a solid glass jar with a lid. This will be your storage container for the concentrate. Add the sugar to the bottom.

Check on the chai often to see if the water level has gotten to the marked level on your spoon. Once it does, remove the pot from the heat source.

Add the ground cayenne pepper. Stir well.

Have the tea leaves pre-measured and set aside.

Add all the tea at once.

Steep for five minutes allowing the tea leaves to expand, swell and unfurl.

Strain the tea and spices from the concentrate over a large bowl.

Now add the steaming hot concentrate to the sugar in the glass storage containers.

Reserve all small particles. This enables a happier drinking experience.

Stir well to combine the sugar and tea. Be sure all the sugar dissolves. Add the pressed ginger and ground nutmeg now if you like. Allow to breath for a few minutes before putting the lid on and placing it in the refrigerator. It is necessary for the chai to sit overnight in the refrigerator to allow the spices to meld. Don't fall to the temptation of drinking it right away.

Keep the concentrate refrigerated until you're ready to drink a cup. Mix one part concentrate with one part of your favorite milk or milk substitute. I must admit that almond milk is a divine pairing with this chai. Heat through for a fantastic deep-winter pick me up. Or pour over ice for a nice mid-summer refreshment.

Enjoy before the sun rises. Enjoy from across the breakfast table with your lover. Enjoy over laughter with a friend. Enjoy! Enjoy!

Now back to Nelly. If you choose to take the clothing removal route of cooling down on a hot summer's day, this video may provide you with some inspiration.

Please note, this is not for tender eyes. If you believe this may be you, I would suggest the iced chai method for cooling off instead.

Nelly - Hot in Herre


  1. I love your blog! It's great! I just stumbled onto it through this week's BlogHer Food List ...this recipe looks so delicious! I'm into dancing wildly in the kitchen too...lol...mentioned that in my last post. Cheers!

  2. Here's to wild dances in the kitchen. Cheers sister!


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