True Indian chai is a far cry from the watered-down Western coffeehouse version. Authentic chai is made with thick buffalo milk, a considerable amount sugar , black tea, and cardamon pods–-if you’re lucky.
First, all of these ingredient should be fresh (or as fresh as possible). You can get all these spices in specialised Indian spice shops.
1. Lipton Yellow Label black tea OR Five Roses Chai tea bags [DO NOT USE GREEN OR LEAF TEA, IT WILL RUIN THE TASTE].
2. Cloves, whole cinnamon sticks (good quality), star anise, fresh ginger + ginger powder, pink & black peppercorns, cardamon pods, vanilla husks (for taste)
3. Optional items: White khas-khas (Indian name of a spice, which is round dried seeds); and soanph (green dried, not roasted)
4. 250ml full-cream milk + 250ml tinned coconut milk. (If you’re lucky enough to find buffalo milk at Indian speciality stores, Durban mostly, then that would be perfect)
PREPARATION METHOD for 1 pot:
In a clean deep dish container, put 2 cups water, 1 cup milk, 1 full teaspoon black tea and spices as follows.
1 pod cardamon
1 tspn ginger zest
1 tblspn ground ginger
4-5 big size whole black & pink pepper corns
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 vanilla husk/pod
2 star anise pods
Pop the dry whole spices in a warm pan for less than 40 seconds. The heat releases the natural oils of the spice. On a piece of manila paper, crush all of the ingredients together. Immediately put this mix in dish with water and milk. Keep them on stove top about 15 minutes, keep stirring continuously. Add brown sugar and honey 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 milk 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. 1 cup of water is burned in the process. This provides smooth taste of chai.
Please note: Chai making can be fun, but you cannot cut time.