Best Traditional Indian Tea From Scratch
Category : Coffee and Tea
1 pod cardamom
2 pea-size fresh ginger (mulched) (powdered or prepackaged cannot be substituted)
1-2 big size whole black pepper
cloves (*note, he doesn't give a quantity but I add 3 or 4 per cup)
1/8 to 1/6 of a cinnamon stick
1 full teaspoon black tea (Brooke Bond Red label, Mamri, or Tajmahal Black tea) see note
1/2 cup half and half (no other milk can be substituted if you really want the taste of real chai)
3/4 cup water.
All of these ingredients should be as fresh as possible.
Put water, half and half, and tea in a pot on medium heat. Crush the first five ingredients together on a hard piece of paper. Add immediately to the pot of tea. Keep them on the stove for about 15 minutes, keep stirring continuously. Add sugar to your taste. Drain on strainer and serve in a cup. The idea is to burn water from the tea while mixing the spices into the leftover tea. You may have to experiment with the quantity of water and mild to the final quantity of tea. In my experience, 2:1 ratio works better, i.e. I use 2 cups of (milk + water) for making one cup of chai. One cup of water is burned in the process. This provides a smooth taste of chai.
The author gives three specific kinds of tea you can use (the Brooke Bond teas, which are manufactured by Lipton. You can get them in Indian grocery stores). He also specifies NOT to use green or leaf tea because it will ruin the taste. I use Brooke Bond Taj Mahal black tea and it looks very different from leaf tea. It almost looks like black instant coffee granules. IMO, you could probably substitute Darjeeling tea but the author says no other tea will do.