Now that the weather in New York City has hit the freezing mark overnight, it’s time to pull out my hot, energizing chai tea recipe!

This recipe comes from a magical location in the foothills of the Himalaya mountains. It is guaranteed to raise your body energy, given the ginger, cloves, and black pepper. This is the easy, physical way to elevate your body energy. You’ve heard of Tai Chi? This is Chai Tea.


Ingredients

Darjeeling Tea leaves
Darjeeling Tea leaves
Star Anise
Star Anise
Cloves
Cloves
Green Cardamom
Green Cardamom
Black Cardamom
Black Cardamom
1 stick Cinnamon
Cinnamon
Black Pepper
Black Pepper
Fresh Ginger Root
Fresh Ginger Root

Principles

  1. Cook with water, not with milk. Though authentic chai is made by bringing milk to a boil, the water-based chai is more practical. Add the milk, cream, or half-n-half later; the water base keeps longer so you can make a larger batch and drink over the course of 1-3 days.
  2. Use completely fresh ingredients and grind them yourself in a mortar and pestle. Especially the ginger must be fresh root, sliced or grated in the moment.
  3. Use the best possible tea leaves, not ground tea nor tea bags. Darjeeling tea has the best flavor for me.
  4. Follow the heat-up procedure and precisely time the tea cook. Tea leaves turn bitter if cooked a minute too long.
  5. Use the strainer method so that you add all the ingredients into the water in a way that you can extract them all in one fell swoop once the tea cook time is ended.

Cooking apparatus

  1. 1.5 liter metal soup pot
  2. Strainer that matches the pot so that when resting on the pot, it dips almost completely into the water
  3. Mortar and pestle for grinding the ingredients. See Principle #2, above.

Heat-up procedure

  1. Start with fresh, cold water in the pot.
  2. Place the strainer on top of the pot, dipping the metal meshing into the water. We’ll add the ingredients to the water, but only inside the strainer, so that we can pull out all the solid ingredients when we’re ready.
  3. Put the pot on high heat, and start preparing and adding the ingredients into the water (into the strainer which is dipped in the water, not into the pot directly). It will take about 2-3 minutes to add in this order as the water warms:
    • Crush the cinnamon and add to the strainer
    • Grate or slice the fresh ginger root and add
    • Crush and add green cardamom
    • Crush and add black cardamom
    • Crush and add cloves
    • Crush and add star anise
    • Crush and add black pepper
    • DO NOT ADD THE TEA LEAVES YET
  4. Wait for the water to come to a boil.
  5. Turn off the heat once the water is boiling and immediately ADD THE TEA LEAVES once the heat is turned off.
  6. The timing of the tea leaves in the hot water is crucial. The amount of time the tea leaves remain in the hot water will make or break the flavor. Depending on the size and type of leaf, this may vary from 2 minutes to 5 minutes. For my Darjeeling tea leaves, the correct timing is 4 minutes. After that, I start to taste hints of bitterness. Sometimes I take it out at 3:30 minutes.
  7. Remove the strainer from the water, let excess water drain off, and put the strainer aside. The contents of the strainer make a great potpourri; it smells great for weeks and does not go bad.


Serving and storing

The remaining water in the pot is now ready to serve! The best tea is served right at that moment, hot and fresh! Add sweetener and milk or half-n-half to taste.

You can reheat the liquid tea on the stove or in the microwave for enjoying later, too. See Principle #1.

My habit is to pour the entire pot into an electric tea kettle made of glass immediately once it is complete, then pour my first cup from the tea kettle. For future cups, I turn on the electric kettle to heat up the liquid before serving. I’ve been known to serve the remaining tea hot in this way the next day. And by putting the teapot into the refrigerator, the tea can keep for up to about 3 days if you don’t drink it all the first day.