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The Thirsty Homesteader, Part 3-Chai




Hi all! I hope that my U.S. readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Mine was characterized by marathon cooking, baking, eating, family hugs, and full belly pats. The ensuing days have been a lazy mixture of: left-overs; a haircut for G.; double feature night Chez English on Friday (“Funny People”-thank you Judd Apatow, again, and “Angels & Demons”-meh); delivery pizza that was promised in 30 minutes and came 90 minutes later (the price of living way back in the country, I guess); Indian buffet for lunch on Saturday; completing the first chapter of the fourth book in the “Homemade Living” series, “Keeping Bees”; snuggling with my pups Dexter and Fly; having my master audio electrician older brother, Jimmy, and his wife Emily stop by to show me that one simple button on our remote had caused us to lose sound in our living room speakers for the past four months (me and G. are rather technologically inept); and lots of sleep today, for a number of reasons. In short, perfection! 


The third installment of my “Thirsty Homesteader” posts is about yet another beverage I often begin my days with (and yes, I am the most well hydrated woman in Western North Carolina). In addition to Kombucha and my Women’s Trini-tea, I make a cup of hot tea each morning. It varies, based on what sounds good, but usually involves chai at least several times each week. Tired of the cloyingly sweet pre-packaged version, I started making my own chai some time ago. It couldn’t be easier, can be sweetened to your preferences, and fills your kitchen with the most invigorating aromas. This time of year I find it especially delectable, as the spiciness of cardamom and clove seem perfectly suited to the season. Warm in the hands and warm in the belly, this chai recipe is a keeper. 

A Perfect Mug of Chai
The Goods:
-4 c. cold water
-4-6 cardamom pods* (depending on how intense you like your chai)
-4-6 cloves (per above)
-4-6 black peppercorns, optional
-2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped, optional
-4 tsp. black tea (I use Darjeeling-you can also use 3 tea bags)
-4-6 tsp. raw honey (suited to your preference)
-1/4 c. milk
*You’ll need to first bruise your cardamom pods before adding them to the water, in order to expose the seeds inside. I do this by hitting them with the back of a spoon. Once cracked open, place the whole thing into the pot-pod, seeds, and all! 

The Deal
-Add water and spices to a medium-sized stainless-steel pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. 
-Reduce heat to low, place tea into a tea strainer, and add to pot along with honey and milk. Simmer for 5 minutes. 
-Remove from heat, cover, and steep for 5 minutes further. 
-Remove and compost tea, and pour chai into two large mugs. I like to leave the spices in, but you can discard them if you prefer. 
-Sip and smile! 

12 Responses to The Thirsty Homesteader, Part 3-Chai

  • Thomas says:

    Don't forget the black pepper. Seriously!

  • KDilley says:

    I've been wanting to start making my own chai, thanks for the push! I recently gave up coffee so this could be a nice ritual to replace the early morning grind with. Glad you had a good thanksgiving!

  • Courtney says:

    Mmmm, I love chai. It's just the ticket for a cozy morning.

  • Anonymous says:

    Such a wonderful time of year. Staying cozy

  • sk says:

    I am definitely trying this! I love the idea of chai, but it's always too sweet for me when I order it out. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe!

  • kristina says:

    I love Chai but never thought of making my own! Thanks for the idea!

  • nicole says:

    You're speaking my language. Chai is one of my absolute favorite drinks. I love the idea of whipping up some of this mix as a nice holiday gift in a pretty jar accompanied by a tea strainer.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this recipe. Following Nicole's suggestion of making a batch and sharing it as a holiday gift, can you please provide a recipe for “bulk” chai? Thanks.

  • well, i've never made it in bulk before, so i could only wager a guess. i'd say to mix about 1 c. of black tea coupled with 20 each of cardamom pods, whole cloves, and peppercorns, and place in a jar with a lid. you'd need to write up a recipe for the recipient, indicating how to brew the chai, adding in the amounts of water, honey, ginger, and milk indicated in my recipe to brew 2 cups. happy sipping!

  • Anonymous says:

    I'd like to know where you purchase your spices and ingredients for tea and your other “drinks.” I live in rural West TN and we don't have a resource for almost everything that you mention on your ingredient list. Perhaps recommend a good online source. Thanks so much.

  • Hi there, Anonymous in rural West TN! I'd put a link in part #2 of the “Thirsty Homesteader” series for folks just such as yourself. It's to Mountain Rose Herbs, a really wonderful business, with both online and catalogue offerings of almost every herb and spice imaginable, medicinal and culinary: http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/. They will undoubtedly have every product I mention that you're unable to locate nearby. Hope this helps!

  • Ooooh…I can't wait to try this.