Enjoy a smooth and creamy Indian Spice Tea with its wonderful mixture of aromatic warm spices brewed with loose black tea leaves. As an introduction to this tea, my husband and I enjoy trying new dishes. After making Indian Chicken Curry Soup, we decided to learn more about Indian food. Luckily for me, one of my co-workers is helpful in understanding Indian cooking. Being a tea lover, I asked him about Indian Chai. Based upon our conversation, my understanding is you drink this tea after dinner to aid with digestion. I love a tea that supports a holistic approach to life. And that sent me off on a new foodie adventure.
My Indian Spice Tea Adventure
My co-worker recommended an authentic Indian restaurant where we enjoyed this delicious Chai along with some awesome food! The picture on the left is the Indian Chai from the Taste of India. And my version is on the right. My recommendation is to treat a cup of Chai like a fine glass of wine. First take in the aroma with its wonderful blend of spices. Next swirl the cup to witness the rich and creamy Chai. Enjoy the first taste of warm spices and though it appears to be rich it is not too sweet. Also fun fact. Chai means tea. So never say “I want a cup of Chai tea”. Because basically you are saying “I want a cup of tea tea”.
Making Indian Spice Tea
We start with selecting good quality tea leaves with medium body flavor. Too weak or too strong are not the best options since the spices compliments the tea. The spices will take over a weak tea. The goal is a nice blend of flavors.
Preparing the Spices
We start with preparing the spices. Heat a heavy pan. Since the cinnamon stick is denser than the other spices, place them in the pan to roast for a few minutes. Try to use “tender” cinnamon sticks that will be easier to crush. Now once the cinnamon stick is warm, add the other spices. Be careful that you do not burn them. Add remaining spices. The Greend Cardamom Pods can “pop” depending upon how hot the pan is. If this happens, reduce the heat. The spices are ready by their aroma. But remember the spices can “pop” so also be careful with getting too close! Place the spices into a vessel to grind them to a desired texture. My selection is a mortar and pestle. Place spices into a mortar and pestle to crush them. Try to crush the cinnamon into several smaller pieces. For the smaller spices, it can be easier to crush them separately.
Making the Indian Spice Tea
Next, we add water, loose tea and prepared spices in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer on medium-low for 10-minutes or until desired taste. The longer you simmer the tea the stronger the flavor. While the tea is brewing, prepare a tea pot by pouring hot water into it. Same with the serving mugs. Never pour hot tea into a cold vessel – always warm it with hot water. Otherwise you will cool down the tea. And if you are using glass cups, heat them before adding hot liquid. The hot tea could crack a cold glass cup.
Now that we have our tea pot and mugs heated, let’s check our tea! It is important to look for a rich color before adding the milk. If you do a taste test, the Indian Spice Tea should be strong. The milk mellows out the flavor. So, if it is too weak at this point do not add the milk! Keep brewing! Maybe add more loose tea or another cinnamon stick. After you are happy with the color and flavor, add the milk and bring it to a soft boil for a minute. Be careful that the milk does not boil over the pan. Now is not the time to walk away to prepare your tea pot and mugs!
Serving Indian Chai
Before serving, strain the loose tea and spices using a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer. You cannot use a regular tea strainer because the prepared spices can seep through into your teapot.
When making a pot of tea, sweetener is a personal choice. I serve tea without any sweetener to allow everyone to make their own choices. The type of milk you add is important to make a creamier tea. I have experimented with different milks from light cream, half and half, 2% milk and skim milk. Light cream or half and half are the best because the Chai is creamier. Skim milk leads to a thinner less flavorful Chai.
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Indian Spice Tea
- Small frying pan
- Mortar and Pestle
- Medium size saucepan with lid
- Fine Mesh Strainer or cheesecloth
- Tea pot
- 2 Glass mugs
- 3 Cinnamon Sticks or 17 grams
- 20 Green Cardamom Pods
- 20 Whole Cloves
- 20 Whole Peppercorns
- 3 tbsp Loose Black Tea
- 2 cups Water
- 1 ½ cups Half and Half or choice of milk
- Sweetener optional
- Heat a heavy pan.
- Place cinnamon sticks in a hot pan and cook for a couple of minutes to release its flavors.
- Add remaining spices. The Greend Cardamom Pods can "pop" depending upon how hot the pan is. If this happens, reduce the heat.
- Be careful that you do not burn the spices. They are ready based upon the aroma.
- Place spices into a mortar and pestle to crush them. Try to crush the cinnamon into several smaller pieces. The remaining spices it can be easier to crush them separately.
- In a small saucepan, add water, loose tea and prepared spices.
- Bring to a boil and then simmer on medium-low for 10-minutes.
- Look for a rich color before adding the milk.
- If you do a taste test at this point it should be strong with spices and tea. But do not be concerned.
- After you are happy with the color, add the milk and bring it back to a soft boil for a minute being careful to not let the milk boil over the pan.
- Prepare a tea pot by pouring hot water into the pot to rinse it and heat it for the hot Tea. Repeat with the tea mugs.
- When ready to serve the tea, strain the loose tea and spices using a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer. You cannot use a regular tea strainer because the prepared spices can seep through into your tea pot.
- Pour tea into the prepared tea pot and then into the tea mugs.
- Clean the mortar and pestle with a wet damp cloth and dry.
- Adding sweetener is a personal choice and best left up to each person.
- The type of milk you add is important to make a creamier Tea.
- I have experimented with different milks from light cream, half and half, 2% milk and skim milk. Light cream or half and half are the best because the Tea is creamier. Skim milk leads to a thinner less flavorful Tea.