Many years ago, I decided to ditch a habit that was causing harm to my health. It was no easy feat. I had a massive void in my heart that was aching to be filled. I searched for what felt like oolong time to fill the spot, but alas, no luck.
And then, I went to India, and fell in love. Sweet, warm and a little spicy. Suffice to say; I fell hard.
If you haven’t guessed it by now, the void I was trying to fill was an almond latte-shaped one. I tried peppermint tea, green tea and even went so far as a magical unicorn latte (yes it's a thing!), but nothing hit the spot quite right.
I searched throughout the region for an alternative drink (okay, the cafes around my neighbourhood). But it wasn’t until I sipped on a chai from a street vendor in India, that I discovered what I'd been missing all along.
Since then, not a day has gone by without a chai. Chai is my motivator, life source and for any yogi’s out there, my prana.
For any newbies out there, let me quickly introduce you: this is chai, a flavoured tea beverage made with black tea and aromatic Indian spices or herbs. Chai loves walks in the park, dairy-free milk, rom-coms, and a dash of excitement.
Since tasting that authentic chai, I've been tinkering around for years trying to perfect my own version and one that can live up to the hype and universal appeal of this drink. My motto being, if at first you don't succeed, chai chai again.
IMHO a good chai needs to be well balanced with spices, have a warmth and sweetness, give you a big hug from first to last sip and its whole should be greater than the sum of its parts.
I’ll stop being modest here for a second and cut to the chai-se, this is the tastiest chai you’ll ever make. I know what you’re thinking: Lee, I think you’re a little bit biased here. Maybe you’re right, but if you're a chai lover I'd really love for you to try it out.
So, you may be asking, what goes into making a good chai? A good chai needs to be the perfect temperature, creamy enough to be warm and comforting, but not too sweet that it overpowers the spices.
But, we’re not here to make a good chai; we’re here to make a great one...
If you avoid caffeine, chai is inclusive, so you can make it with a caffeine-free tea as a base. I’ve added a version where I've swapped out the regular black tea for caffeine-free rooibos tea- but you can make it with either.
My chai spice mix (masala tea) includes a mix of spices, including cardamom pods, ginger, cinnamon, whole cloves, star anise, fennel seeds and saffron. This blend is perfect for creating a dreamy creamy at-home chai.
Once you’ve created your chai mix, feel free to keep it in a glass jar and leave it in your spice cabinet for future use (like, ahem, tomorrow) or the fridge.
This simple recipe makes for the perfect pick-me-up, and as a bonus, makes the house smell like Christmas!
The Best Sticky Chai Recipe I have Ever Tasted
Makes: 1 jar
- 12 cardamom pods
- 1 inch piece of ginger
- 3 cinnamon quills
- 4 star anise
- 1 tbs fennel seeds
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 1/2 cups rooibos tea leaves or use English breakfast tea
- 1 tbs vanilla fresh, liquid or powder
- 1/4 cup honey
- Pinch saffron (optional)
In a small pan toast cardamom pods, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, whole cloves and fennel seeds.
Transfer to blender or mortar and pestle and smash or whizz until pieces are chunky.
Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir in vanilla and honey to coat. I usually do this bit with my hands.
Keep in airtight container - I store mine in the cupboard, but you do you!.
Sticky Oat Milk Rooibos Chai
- 3 tbs chai mix
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup oat milk
- Ground cinnamon, to serve
Place 3 TBS of chai and 2 cups of water in a small saucepan over a medium heat.
Heat slowly and then turn down to a simmer. (This will protect the nutrients in the honey as rapid heat can destroy them).
Add 1/2 cup of oat milk and warm gently.
Turn off heat and let steep for 5 minutes allowing the flavours to mingle.
Strain into a mug and top with ground cinnamon.
Hope you enjoy this delicious Sticky Chai recipe. Let me know how it works out for you in the comments section below.