I spend a fortune on various loose leaf teas, particularly ones which have pretty whole leaves, petals, spices, etc which look gorgeous swirling and unfurling in a cup of hot water. But pretty tea comes with a pretty price tag and, when I was telling one of my colleagues about my love of Masala Chai, she recommended I make my own - promising to give me her 'secret family recipe'. I never got the recipe, but she'd sown the seed and I decided to have a bash at making my own Chai.
Firstly, I trawled the internet. Masala Chai is traditionally served sweet with condensed or sweetened milk, or milk and sugar. I like it plain so to speak, just the spice mix and a drop of skimmed milk - really strong. Finding a recipe for just the spice mix was pretty hard so in the end, I took lists of spices from various sources and just made up my own. I must say, most sites do recommend using whole spices where possible and I can see why, I used ground ginger and ground cinnamon and they just weren't potent enough - plus their powdery texture meant they seeped through my tea strainer slightly! Should have popped the mix in to my Handmade Teabags!
Ingredients (yield is about 10 mugs of Chai):
5 x Assam Tea Bags split open (replace with whole leaf Assam if possible)
1 tsp each of Ground Ginger (replace with whole dried ginger if possible), Ground Cinnamon (replace with whole cinnamon sticks or bark if possible), Whole Green Cardamon, Black Peppercorn, Chilli Flakes, Whole Cloves, Star Anise
Method... chuck it all in to a tub and give it a bit of a crush just to release the flavour, not to grind it, with the end of a rolling pin; or preferably use a mortar and pestle if you have one!