Chai is a drink of black tea with spices you probably already have in your kitchen cabinet. It's a popular hot beverage for fall and winter, because the spices are warming: cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, ginger, and nutmeg.
The concoction originated in India, but now it's popular in cafes all around the world. Most of the time when you order a Chai Latte from your barista, they're using a mix they've sourced in powdered or liquid form, which is nearly always overly sugary.
I encourage you to give this homemade version a try. It takes only about 5 minutes to make, and it's really delicious.
To brew my chai tea, I use a ceramic mug with a stainless steel tea diffuser inside. It also came with a lid to keep my beverage warm while the tea steeps.
It's a small investment that I use on a daily basis for all my loose leaf tea, so I personally recommend it to you, too.
If you already have more mugs than you could ever hope to own, you can order a stainless steel tea steeping basket all by itself, instead.
I use an electric tea kettle with a variable temperature control to heat water for my tea.
The temperature control is important if you intend to also use the kettle for more delicate teas like green or white, because those taste best when brewed in cooler-than-boiling water. You can find one like mine here.
Loose Leaf Tea
For the most delicious Chai Latte, I highly recommend buying loose leaf black tea to use in this recipe.
You can absolutely use a standard sachet of black tea powder (which is what most people drink). However, that powder is literally the dregs left over on the table after the premium whole tea leaves are sorted and packaged for sale.
If you've never brewed your own whole loose leaf tea, I encourage you to give it a try!
Happy medium: Whole leaf tea is sometimes sold pre-loaded into sachets. This is the case for one of my favorite tea sources, Two Leaves and a Bud. Try their Darjeeling or English Breakfast black tea sachets (which are also compostable).
If you want to make this Chai Latte today, but you haven't bought a tea strainer or loose leaf tea yet, you still have options.
Simply steep a regular black tea sachet in boiling hot water, along with the spices listed below, for 5 minutes. Then remove the tea bag, and pour the tea through a fine mesh strainer into your mug. Add your plant-based milk and maple or agave syrup to sweeten it (if desired).
Pro tip: Craving chocolate? Add ½ tsp raw cacao powder and make this a Chocolate Chai Latte.
Extra quick shortcut: Instead of combining your own spices together, use 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice blend in place of the individual spices listed below.
Now, let's get to the full instructions!
1. In an electric kettle or saucepan, boil about 2 cups of water.
2. Place your tea steeping basket into your tea mug and add 1 Tbsp loose leaf black tea.
3. Add your individual whole or ground spices: cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, black pepper.
4. If you have some, a single star anise pod is a very nice addition because it brings extra complexity to the flavor of the tea.
6. Pour the hot water over the tea and spices, and allow to steep for 5 minutes.
7. Remove the steeping basket from the mug.
8. Add 2 tsp of pure maple syrup (or other sweetener of your choice).
9. Add about a Tablespoon of coconut milk (or plant-based milk of your choice).
10. Stir it all together.
Any time you can add spices to your daily life, you should, because spices offer the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food.
This means you'll be sipping an elixir that boosts your immune system, reduces inflammation in the body, reverses the signs of aging, and a wide array of other health benefits.