A Seasonal Cup of (Authentic Indian) Chai Solves Everything – Even Changing Weather
India runs on chai! There are endless reasons for chai. Served as an everyday morning beverage or to celebrate an everyday mundane evening, chai can be a perfect pairing for welcoming guests, inducing relaxation, waking you up if you feel too sleepy, or at times, remedying a headache or warding off boredom. If it’s raining and chilly outside or if it’s too hot and you need to cool down – The list goes on and on. But what you get at the corner coffee shop — that tall, syrupy drink – is that really chai? Truth is, it cannot be further from real chai: a freshly brewed cup of black tea (Assam CTC), seasoned with spices and herbs (seasonal!) with full cream/whole milk. Did you notice there is no concentrate or chai syrup mentioned? And it is never iced.
- 1 ¾ cup Water
- ¼ cup Milk (whole)
- 1 ½ tsp Black tea (go for Assam CTC loose tea, in a good brand that you like)
- Seasonal Ingredient: See Special Tip below.
- Sugar – to taste
- Bring the water to a boil.
- Once the water comes to a rolling boil, cook for 30-60 seconds, adding the seasonal ingredient.
- Add the black tea and slow the heat to a simmer for 1 minute.
- Add the milk. Cook until it reaches a rolling boil, and the tea starts to foam and rise in the saucepan.
- AT this point, it is a game of simmer-to-high: it rises to the top with high heat and settles down to level with simmer. Do this 3-5 times until the fragrance of black pepper and tea fills the head space with its sharp, spicy aroma.
- Strain and pour! Sweeten to taste (cane or brown rock crystal sugar are the best company of chai!).
Yield: 2 cups, because you want to share the goodness
Shelf Life: Always Fresh (Non-negotiable)
Dosage: 1 cup, maybe more, you decide
Usage: Slurrrp, drink, and savor this Indian gift to humanity!
Indications: Just because, there is NO REASON needed for chai!
Benefits: Will make you happy
Special Tip: Add the special ingredient as per the season in Step 2 of the recipe.
- Summer Cup of Chai – 4-5 fresh mint leaves, this tea is called Pudina Wali Chai.
- Winter Cup of Chai – 1 teaspoon freshly grated Ginger, this tea is called Adrak Wali Chai.
- Spring Cup of Chai – 4-5 leaves/1 tea bag of Holy Basil/Tulsi, this tea is called Tulsi Wali Chai.
- Autumn Cup of Chai – 2 cardamom pods, opened and seeds freshly pounded to powder. This tea is called Elyachi Wali Chai.
Fun Fact: My father used to get sneezy with a runny nose very often. I remember it clearly. Using his nasal voice, his eyes peeking from above his low-setting prescription glasses, he used to call my mother very lovingly, “Rani, will you please make me a cup of Kali Mirch waali chai (black pepper-infused tea)?” My mother used to always answer by saying “Jee,” which means “of course”. He used to slurp it from the saucer and always complimented her, “Today, you made it so tasty.” Every. Single. Time.
I guess I am finally warming up to you. If it were not for chai, I would have not shared my personal story with you. I would love to know some of your stories, too. Tag me on Instagram @Induaroraofficial and share when you make your version of chai inspired by this recipe. We are official chai buddies now.
Indu Arora considers herself a student for a lifetime. As a Yoga and Ayurveda teacher, she shared her experiences for the last two decades across more than 50 cities worldwide. Her unique gift is making Yoga and Ayurveda a practice, which is equally useful for a beginner as for a sincere seeker who has made Yoga a lifelong journey. She is the author of Mudra: The Sacred Secret (2015) and Yoga: Ancient Heritage, Tomorrow’s Vision (2005, 2019). She lives in Minneapolis with her spouse.