I was making a bit of a joke but to be honest that brand of bagged chai is not bad for pre assembled low effort stuff. But if you want the real deal I’m delighted to help. Here’s a bit of a run down first:
Chai itself just means tea, but I assume when you say chai you’re thinking of masala chai which is the spicy tea (emphasis on the spice, the spice is that distinct flavor you’re looking for.) To get that flavor you can go two routes:
- :effort: method: Get a bagged spiced chai from like Twinings or the Stash brand I linked above and brew it 7-10 minutes like normal (and add hot milk and sugar to taste)
- MLG PRO Uncle Iroh method: Using your own spices and black tea. (BYOC, build your own chai) which involves:
- Brewing the spices in a sauce pan with water because it takes longer to get flavor out of them.
- Adding the tea leaves and brewing it for however long the tea is supposed to be brewed (tea has a tendency to become bitter if steeped too long.)
- Add milk, sugar, etc to taste then strain and serve.
Now, if you’re committed to the Iroh method then you’re probably curious what spices, and what tea. So I’m gonna elaborate:
For spices, you’ve got a world of spice at your fingertips but here are some of the common spices to use: Cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, anise, nutmeg, black peppercorn, fennel, and such.
For tea, most black teas will do but some work better than others (I like Assam.)
So right there you’ve got your base for home made spiced masala chai. But if you wanna kick it up a notch and just go extremely Iroh you can add some herbs and other stuff too like: Mint, honey, and vanilla.
You’re not gonna wanna add all these things, mind you. Some ingredients compliment and work with each other better than others. You’re gonna have to find your own taste but if you’re looking for a recipe to get ya started here’s one of my spouse’s brews (beginner level):
- Heat 1 1/2 cups of water and half a cup of milk in a saucepan with 10 cardamom pods, a pinch of fennel, a pinch of ginger, and a small cinnamon stick (bonus: 4 kernels of black peppercorn but that’s optional) until it comes to a boil.
Immediately, once it comes to a boil, turn down the heat to low/medium. Leave it there for maybe 10 mins. (Don’t let it boil again at this point.)
- Add one tea bag or a teaspoon of loose leaf tea and maybe 1-2 spoons of sugar. Take it off the heat and let it steep for five minutes.
- Strain and serve. (Good accompaniment: Girl Scout treffoil cookies.)
If you are ready to take the plunge @heyboots I can send you some good quality black Assam from the Spice and Tea Exchange here in NOVA (since I know where you live) to get started with if you want.