You don’t need a store bought brand or a multinational chain cafe to tell you how to drink your chai tea. The name itself reflects its ignorance of origin, as it’s just plain chai on the Indian subcontinent. But until you can experience a chaiwalla in person, your best bet is to make your own blend. It’s cheaper, better for the environment, and allows you to have control over the final flavor.
The basics of the real thing depend greatly on family traditions and region, but a consensus of spices in Masala Chai are cardamom, clove, black pepper, cinnamon, anise, and ginger. Sweetened or unsweetened, caffeinated or decaf, medicated or not, it’s all up to you! Make this tea to sip while you work, read, or are getting over an afternoon slump.
DIY Chai Tea
Adapted from The Hathi Cooks
Makes 2 cups, 7mg THC per cup estimated
- 6-7 Cardamom pods
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- 3-4 Cloves
- 3-4 Black peppercorns
- 5-6 caraway seeds
- 1 star anise pod
- 1 spent Vanilla bean (use the filling for something else!)
- 1 tsp Ginger powder or a few slices of fresh ginger
- 1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp Cannabis glycerin tincture*
In a dry saucepan, toast up the spices lightly until they become fragrant. You can either lightly crush them with a wooden muddler, or leave whole for less intense flavors. Pour over 2 cups of water and add the powdered spices and vanilla pod. Boil for 5-10 minutes.
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To show all of the beautiful spices, you can use a French press to serve it table-side, and its screen will help you filter out the solids so you can have the tea. Regardless of pressing or just serving direct from the saucepan, strain before adding the glycerin tincture so none of it sticks to the solids.
If you want to caffeinate your mix, try adding some strong black tea to the boiling phase or even in the French press before serving. To make it creamy, swap out the water for milk and simmer more carefully. Then you can add some hot water to dilute if you like. Vegan milks work great here too.
*Cannabis Glycerin Tincture
Decarboxylate 3.5g of finely ground cannabis at 225 degrees for 20 minutes in a tightly sealed, oven safe container. Put cannabis in lidded mason jar or vacuum sealed bag with cannabis and ½ cup vegetable glycerin. Heat in water bath just under boiling for at least 1 hour. Strain and chill to use in recipes.
As easy to whip up as it is to throw back, chai tea with cannabis allows you to taste the spices that drove trade in the “old world” in the way they are consumed in one of the world’s most ancient societies, where it’s rumored that cannabis was also born. Having Masala Chai with a snack or as its own hit of freshness is the wow factor you were missing in your beverage rotation.
Photos: Maria Penaloza