Those leisurely Sunday mornings…lingering around in your favorite pajamas…slow beats vibrating softly through speakers…sun’s rays beaming in through the windows and pulling on those lethargic, sluggish strings to move on out…while the spirit snoozes under the aroma of cardamom, fennel and ginger brewing atop the stove.
Ginger to heat the body, which has been dormant under the night sky, sweet cardamom to activate love, awaken the lungs, dissolve mucus and cooling fennel to lighten the body of excess air and water. All three igniting the digestive fire, supporting movement and tantalizing the spirit through their aromatics. Masala chai Sundays are pure joy.
For the past couple months, I’ve made it a spring ritual. Minimal ingredients, effort and three spices that are available in my spice cupboard at all times. This masala chai recipe is my current go to. It’s less milky, thus, less heavy than an autumn chai. For a little extra pep with each step!
Sweet & Warming Cardamom, Fennel & Ginger Chai
servings: 2 | time: 20 mins
Tastes: Sweet, Pungent, Bitter
What you need: a small pot, a mortar/pestle or a rolling pin
- 4 cups water
- 8-10 thin slices of ginger (1 inch)
- 5-6 cardamom pods crushed (or 1/2 tsp cardamom powder)
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tsp black loose leaf tea or 3-4 tea bags (Assam, English breakfast, orange pekoe)*
- 1 tsp unrefined sugar (jaggery, succanet, organic raw cane)
- 1/2 cup whole cow’s milk*
- pinch of cardamom powder (optional)
1. Using a rolling pin or a mortar and pestle, crush the cardamom pods to open them and to slightly crush the seeds. Cut the ginger into very thin slices to extract the flavors quicker (or crush the ginger in the mortar and pestle with the cardamom).
2. In a 1-2 quart stainless steel pot bring the water and all three spices to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until two-thirds (a little more than half about 21ozs) of the spiced water remains —or simmer until 1/2 the water remains, if you want a stronger flavor and a more milky chai.
3. Add in the loose tea or tea bags and cane sugar. Continue to simmer for 3-4 minutes. Until you have a nice rich color.
4. Pour in the milk and bring the chai to a boil. Once it begins to boil or rise, lower the temperature a bit, let it simmer for about 2 minutes or for a few more rises—the color will shift from a grayish brown to warmer brown. That’s when you know it’s done! Add a pinch of cardamom powder to finish it off, strain and enjoy.
Notes: reduce ginger to 1/2 inch, if you want a less spicy tea. If additional sugar is needed add it to the cup individually. Sugar like salt, will bring out the flavor of the spices. If using organic cane sugar, the cooling energy balances the heating energy of the spices. If you have more of a vata or pitta constitution a little extra sweet is not a bad thing —enjoy!
Caffeine-free option: use tulsi or holy-basil instead of black tea. Tulsi will add a spicy peppery note. Tulsi can also be added as an additional flavoring at the time the tea is added. When using tulsi use an nut or seed milk versus cow’s milk.
Milk: I have not made this chai recipe with a non-cow’s milk, if using a nut or seed milk measurement and tastes may vary.
Make ahead masala chai: the decoction can be made in advance and will keep well in the fridge for a least a week. The more the spice and water mixture is reduced the stronger the decoction. When ready to drink, start with step 3, after decoction is tea steeping temperature.