Absurdly Easy: Chai tea, with a kick of spice and sweetness

chai tea

I've come to find that certain situations are handled best with a hot beverage. Waking up to a gray morning, for instance, or stretching out on a quiet afternoon with a book in hand. Or, say, after getting caught in a warm August rainfall on a Sunday walk (hey, since when does it rain around here?). My beverage of choice for these times: a steaming cup of chai tea.


There’s something endlessly soothing about the warmth and spiciness of chai tea. The heat of ginger and spices – cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and peppercorns – steeps with black tea to create a rich, spicy concentrate. Mix this in equal parts with milk, and you’ve got a rich, creamy drink that’s unlike anything else.


I’ve ordered chai at coffee shops all around town. My favorite versions have a strong punch of spice and just a hint of sweetness. But why shop around? It turns out that the perfect cup of chai can be made right in your own kitchen.


Plus, if you don't feel yet like abandoning summer (who does?) then this version is excellent iced as well. Enjoy!


Homemade Chai Tea

4 cups water

15 whole cloves

20 black peppercorns

3 cinnamon sticks

20 whole cardamom pods, carefully split with a sharp knife

10 coins of sliced ginger, about 1/4 inch thick (no need to peel)

4 black tea bags (I recommend Darjeeling)

1/4 cup brown sugar

Milk, for serving


In a medium saucepan, combine the water, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, cardamom and ginger. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, cover, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.


Remove from heat and add the tea bags and sugar; stir to combine the sugar. Steep the tea bags for 5 minutes, then remove and discard. Allow to cool, then pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. 


To serve: mix equal parts chai tea mixture and milk of your choice. To enjoy hot, bring chai and milk mixture to a boil over medium heat. For iced chai, simply pour the chai and milk over ice.


Carley Bohnen is a Minnesota writer and cook. By day, she works in the technical world of interactive project management, but by night, she's usually standing in the kitchen with her sleeves rolled up, hunched over a pot or pan or mixing bowl of something. Follow her food blog, beans, which runs that gamut from baked chickpeas to red wine pot roasts.