Herbal Masala Chai Concentrate
Masala chai is a decoction (long-term simmering infusion) of spices like cardamom, cinnamon, clove, star anise and cloves usually with black tea in water or milk over the stove or fire. The spicy tea originated in India where there are plenty of chai vendors (instead of the plethora of coffee stands like in the U.S.). Traditional chai is served in earthen ceramic mugs and is called "masala chai".
Besides being delicious, chai is also a multi-tasker. The ginger helps to increase circulation and aid in digestion (great for nausea) as well as being detoxifying. Cloves can help relieve stomach or tooth pain and strengthen the immune system, killing intestinal parasites. Cardamom helps relieve gas and and can be soothing for bronchial problems. Cinnamon also aids digestion when stagnant and can be great for indigestion and cramping (nursing mothers be careful of cinnamon because it can be a culprit of acid reflux in babies). It can also help fight fungal, bacterial, and parasitic infections.
Commercial chai can contain a lot of sugar, some preservatives, and additives. Creating your own can be so easy and so much more beneficial for you! Plus, you can tinker the recipe however you like! Like spicy chai? Add peppercorns!
This chai concentrate has cinnamon, ginger, star anise, clove, and cardamom (one of the most important ingredients!). Other herbs you can add are peppercorns, fennel seeds, and coriander. You can also add black tea steep (I suggest adding it just after you removed from simmering) or a tea of your choice like this rooibos makes a delicious and antioxidant-rich inclusion. I recommend using whole spices for the best flavor. Mountain Rose Herbs is a great place to buy herbs!
Herbal and Homemade Masala Chai Concentrate
3 star anise
2" chunk of ginger, sliced (alternatively you can use crystallized ginger if fresh isn't available)
4 cinnamon sticks
1 TB cardamom pods
1 TB clove
6 cups water
1. Add all ingredients to the water in a pot. Heat to boil then simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Strain, add extra boiling water to taste (it could be mighty strong!) and add cream (I like to add the Califia blend unsweetened creamer. Their hazelnut creamer is also a really fun addition!) You can add a little sugar or honey at this point too.
Your house will smell like a Christmas bakehouse afterwards! One of the reasons I love making chai is the rich aroma. It's a natural potpourri you can drink!
I made a list of spices for easy convenience on an amazon list but you'll find these all at your local grocery food store. The amazon list is here at this link. I can't vouch for how fresh these spices are but I've had good luck with most of these brands. Buy local if you can!
You can also find these spices at Mountain Rose Herbs.