I make this chai quite a bit. When Michelle isn’t feeling up for espresso, I seem to knock this back quite a bit. For someone who didn’t grow up eating Indian food, I find it very comforting. This is a staple in my diet these days.

  • 2 C of 1% milk
  • a splash of whole milk
  • 1/2-1 C water
  • heaping tablespoon of assam tea
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken up
  • 3-6 cardamom pods
  • 1 star anise
  • 1.5 t of anise seed
  • 2-3 whole cloves (this imparts a dry taste)
  • agave (but sugar can be used instead)
  • 1 qt pot
  1. Heat milk to just before boiling (180 degrees F) in the pot. Adjust the milk to your tastes. Personally I go for a mixture of 1% and whole milk, but adjust to your taste. Bubbles will appear on the edges. Milk will turn to a huge boiling mess if you don’t watch it carefully. (Not that I have made and cleaned up many messes because of this. Oh no. This was… a friend of mine. Yeah. That’s it.)
  2. Add tea and spices, turn down heat to low, to keep it at a slow, rolling boil. Simmer for 20-40 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. A large bubble shell of spices will appear on the top that needs to be mixed in. I like to simmer mine for 40 minutes for a stronger taste.
  3. Strain and add agave / sugar to your taste. I put a squirt of agave and taste to my preferred amount. If you simmer it longer, it will need a bit more sugar. Or not, if you are like that.

This will last for a few days in the refrigerator. If given to a bunch of tango dancers, it will all go away very quickly. Put on a Biagi milonga tanda (or 7) to deal with the ensuing energy.

I get my spices from Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco since they have a good bulk spice selection there. If you go other places you are just going to spend a ton of cash on the glass bottles, which seems pretty ridiculous to me, not to mention expensive. (But I did just mention expensive… hmm.)

Thanks to Subashini Ganeshan for teaching me the basic recipe. I tried a number and experimented before she pushed me in the right direction. If you can try her food, you are truly lucky.

Leave a Reply