Chai and I have had a long love affair. I can’t remember where we first met or who introduced us but I’m glad we met. I first wrote about chai in Epicure in 2004 well before it was so readily available in Melbourne’s cafes and supermarkets, (or teabags?!).
For the uninitiated, chai or masala chai as is its true name, is the wonderful spicy tea that originates in India. Made with black tea, spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cardomom, cloves and black pepper and sweetened with sugar or honey in India the recipe varies from region to region, family to family. A chaiwala is India’s equivalent of a barista.
Here’s my recipe for caffeine free chai that I brew each afternoon. I make it with rice milk that has a naturally sweet taste so there’s no need to add sugar or honey and the spices give me the pick-me-up without the caffeine edge.
Caffeine free masala chai
14 cardamom pods
2-3 slices fresh ginger (or as much grated ginger as you like)
1 teaspoon aniseed
1.5 stars of star anise
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
½ cinnamon quill
1 teaspoon rooibos tea
1.5 cups rice milk
half cup of water
Place all spices in mortar and use pestle to gently grind and release flavours. Add milk, water, rooibos and spices to a saucepan and simmer over a gentle heat for 5-10 minutes depending on how strong you like the flavours to be.
You can adjust the quantities and add or leave out spices as you wish.
For me the making is as enjoyable as the drinking. Enjoy.