I can't remember the first time I had a chai tea, but it was probably at some event including wall to wall tie-dye, dreadlocks and nag champa wafting on the breeze. I do recall the first one that made an impression on me though, at an autumn food festival in South Australia, served from a huge steaming pot, milk and honey already added and being kept on a low boil throughout the afternoon.

I tried many different types in the years after that - side note, I never found one that comes in a teabag that is worth the money I paid for it - and eventually found a rough and ready favourite. Every time I visited Australia during years spent overseas, I'd go to the deli and hunt down a batch...which steadily increased in price over the years to such a point that I finally saw sense and tried to replicate my own version. So, in the age old tradition of reading the label, I checked the ingredients, looked in my spice cabinet and rifled through my remaining stash to get an idea of proportions.

It's astoundingly simple and quite cheap to make, and can be made with or without black tea (though it's included in the traditional preparation, it has much less of a stimulant effect without it). I love spending part of a lazy Sunday afternoon boiling up my own brew.

I don't measure this by grams, or anything resembling exact measurements so bear with me (and tweak to suit your own tastes) but for a small batch of chai I use (approximately)
2T whole cardamom pods
2T whole cloves
2-3 5cm sized cinnamon or cassia sticks, broken into small pieces
5 whole star anise - broken into pieces
1/2 - 1t coarsely ground or broken up nutmeg (I have a nutmeg grater to shave fresh pieces off the whole nuts, but you can also wrap a whole nut in a cloth and smash it up with a hammer. You can use the pre-ground too but freshly grated is better)
1/2 medium ginger root, dried (to dry ginger, cut it into small segments and leave to air dry on a paper towel for a couple of days)
Loose leaf black tea to taste, 2-4T would be a suitable amount (optional)

For a small saucepan of chai (3-4 cups) I add 3-4 heaped teaspoons of this mixture. Simmer for a good 15-20 minutes, add honey to taste and milk if you like (I  tend to add the milk afterwards rather than during as I add more water and reboil the spices for as long as I can extract flavour out of them). Strain into a cup and store any leftover brew with the spices still in it for reheating.

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