Monday, February 14, 2011

Chai Mix: Spice Up Your Life


Spiced chai is one of my favourite teas...I think trumped only by Earl Grey Cream. I drink it every morning because of the yoga belief that spices help get your metabolism going. I buy it from a local tea store and it's delicious, but expensive...and, since I always feel compelled to make things for myself, I decided to make my own chai mix! I spent quite a while searching the internet, comparing recipes....



To my annoyance, so many of them were not for a dry mix of the spices, but for a Chai latte mix and contained sugar. The few that I found essentially called for the same spices, and I never came across a particular recipe that I thought stood out, so I settled for a mix of mainly these recipes:
but also mixed in some additional knowledge from the various other recipes I read.


My first attempt at chai tea resulted in...a less than exciting beverage. It really didn't taste like much at all, not even black tea, which was strange. On the bright side, the mix smelled amazing. I let it sit for a while, because I was busy with other things and was deliberating how to improve the taste. I Googled some more recipes, but nothing clicked as "that's what I'm missing!" So, I  hypothesized a couple things...

1. Most basically, I am guessing that I should roast my spices a bit longer to draw out more of their aroma. Next time, I will base my roasting more on smell than time.

2. Since I was lacking in tea, I had only added 2/3 of a cup versus the recommended full cup. I think adding more tea would go a long way in adding flavour.

3. I decided a major problem was with the distribution of the spices-- I think the spices were not ground down enough. I had been careful not to grind them too much, for fear of creating a powder, but I think I overcompensated. Because the spices were still quite large, they did not evenly distribute themselves in the mixture, meaning I didn't always get adequate spice in the sample I put in my tea steeper.

That's how large I left the pieces in the first place...seems ridiculous now, hah
  • So, I lightly ground the spices.
  •  I added more of the spices that are my favourite (cloves, allspice and cardamon), pan roasting them so I could be more observant of how they smell.
  • I also introduced some fennel seed to the mix...for taste and because I had some lying around.
  • Made sure I had a good sample of spices in my tea steeper
    Roughly, this was the recipe I went with...

    Chai Mix:


    Ingredients:

    • 30 + green cardamom pods, chopped in half
    • 2 tsp. black peppercorns
    • 1 Tbs. star anise
    • 1 Tbs. allspice
    • 1 Tbs. whole cloves
    • 1 tsp. fennel seeds
    • 2 four inch cinnamon sticks
    • 20 grams peeled, chopping and dehydrated ginger—about 100 grams fresh
    • 1 Tbs. dehydrated orange peel/zest (bigger than zest, but with none of the bitter white pith)
    • 1 cup or 100 grams black, loose leaf tea
    Instructions:

    1. Dry roast the spices one kind at a time--heat a pan and roast each spice until they begin to release their scent.


    2. Combine spices in a mortar and pestle and grind them, Grind each spice individually in a mortar and pestle, keeping the pieces large enough so that they won't sift through your tea infuser. You might want to start with the cinnamon sticks, since they can be a bit difficult.

    3. Mix spices with dehydrated ginger, orange peel and your black tea, and store in a sealable container.


    The results were much improved, it actually tasted like more than hot water! Though I was pleased with these improvements, my tea still did not compare to my tea store's mix. I will definitely make it again, so if anyone has any tips, PLEASE let me know! I would absolutely love to hear them.


    Happy Valentine's Day..if you're feeling lonely, spice it up with a nice cup of hot tea !

    UPDATE March 23/11: I have made this recipe since, and though it's still not perfect, it's much better. I added more ginger, making sure I peeled it completely, and dry roasted and ground each spice individually.  I also used a stronger black tea, though I think it's the ginger that made the difference.


    August 23/11: I think I can express my complete satisfaction with this recipe now. There is always some made in my house. I never follow the spice amounts exactly, always using slightly more than the recipe calls for. I also use as much ginger as I can get my hands on.

    3 comments:

    1. OOOOOOO this looks amazing!! I bet it is delicious, too! Even if it wasn't… how nice it would be just to have on the counter and open up to smell once in a while. ha

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    2. A lot of those spices do better if you let them cook on low for a long time...I usually make a giant stock pot of chai & let it cook for several hours, reheating it whenever I want a cup. And using fresh ginger instead of dehydrated is key.

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