Anyone who has been to the White Lotus Foundation in Santa Barbara, CA comes back raving about the food. The cook, Beatrix, serves up amazing vegetarian (almost all vegan) meals three times a day. While I was there, a few times, she made this really beautiful chai tea. The smell of it filled the entire space up until we were all gathered near the kitchen waiting for it to be ready.
Beatrix wouldn't give me her recipe, which she said would be too difficult to scale down. (She does have a cookbook though!) When we (my fellow students) were back home talking about it I was nominated for the task of trying to recreate the perfect chai, at least at good as Beatrix's. So I've been working.
Here's what I got so far after reading a bunch of recipes and trying out my own.
1) fill a pot with 3 cups of water. turn the heat up high.
2) cut off about an inch of fresh ginger, remove the skin, and then slice that inch into thin slices. drop the slices in the water.
3) drop 1 cinnamon stick into the pot.
4) add 6 cardamom pods to the pot. if you really like cardamom you can give them a little smash before adding them. i boil the chai enough so that the pods open up and give off such a nice fragrance and flavor.
5) I like my chai with a little zing so I drop in 5 black peppercorns. try it out and then decide if you want to add in only 4 or even 3.
6) add 6 whole cloves
***some people like to add one anise star. i don't. but try it out, see if it's for you.
7) with all of these ingredients in the pot bring the water to a boil. once it's boiling, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.
8) after the 5 minutes of simmering, remove from the heat, still covered, and set it aside for 10 minutes as it steeps.
9) after those ten minutes, bring the pot back onto the heat and bring to a boil.
10) once it's boiling you can add your tea. choose a nice strong black tea- assam. i use tea in bags because it's super easy to just throw them in and then strain them out. add in 2 tea bags or one tablespoon of loose tea.
11) so your chai is up to a boil, you've added your tea. now take the pot off the heat and set it aside (covered) to steep for about 5 minutes.
12) now add one (how much i add) or two tablespoons of sweetener. i've been using brown sugar. you really don't need a lot at all so just add tiny amounts at a time.
13) strain out the ingredients, add whatever form of milk you'd like (cow, soy, nut) and ENJOY! The perfect chai.
This should make you two big glasses full. Let me know what you think!