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Spicy + Creamy Masala Chai

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FOTG contributor, Jen from Messkit Maven is here to share her masala chai recipe. This creamy, spicy drink will warm you up on adventures of all kinds.

A mug of masala chai

I fancy myself a masala chai connoisseur. And I am pretty tough to please.

My favorite place to indulge in a masala chai is at Dragonfly Coffee House in Portland, Oregon. Not only do they have an incredible assortment of homemade pastries, ranging from vegan to gluten-free and everything-full, they make one of my favorite smoothies, and of course, my favorite masala chai latte. After a long and chilly run in Forest Park during the rainy months, I spend the last few miles thinking about warming up with a cup of this tea in my hands.

Let’s get one thing straight first before we dig into the recipe. We often see some variation of “Chai Latte,” “Chai Tea Latte,” or “Chai Tea.”

Chai is the word for “tea” in a variety of languages (often spelled differently, but pronounced the same), but of course, we’re talking about India specifically here. What we know as “Chai Tea” is really Masala Chai, which refers to the spices used to infuse the tea.

Masala chai spices in a pot

I’ve tried various masala chai lattes wherever I go, and it’s rare that I find the right ratio of spice to sweet. I prefer my masala chai to be on the spicier side, so keep that in mind when you make this tea. If you prefer a sweeter masala chai, you can add more sweetener or reduce the ginger and peppercorns slightly.

For months, at home, I’ve followed numerous recipes, in attempt to develop my perfect cup of masala chai and I think I’ve finally landed on the right one. It’s creamy and soothing with the perfect amount of spice.

I originally had intended for this to be a masala chai latte recipe, meaning I’d be adding foamed milk to the mix, but, alas, I could not locate our camp french press after all of our rearranging and moving in between travels, so this is a more simplified version, which I loved just as much, if not more. Plus, it was one fewer step!

If you do want to create a frothy topping, then I would suggest following the first steps in making the tea, then filter the tea into an insulated container to keep warm while you heat the milk separately. There are a variety of camp-friendly ways you can froth your milk without a steamer, as I learned from a bit of research. Just promise me you’ll top it off with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

A mug of masala chai

Masala Chai

  • 2 inch piece of ginger (sliced into coins (I usually can’t be bothered to peel ginger when I don’t have to, so I always buy organic))
  • 2 cardamom pods (crushed (with the back of a wooden spoon, a knife, or some other hard surface))
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 star anise ((optional))
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 black tea bags
  • 2 1/2 cups shelf-stable almond or hemp milk
  1. Combine spices and tea bags with water and bring to a boil.
  2. Cover, and reduce to simmer for five minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and let sit five more minutes.
  4. Add the milk and heat up to just before the liquid reaches the boiling point, when you can start to see small bubbles forming on the edge of the pot.
  5. Strain and enjoy.

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

Small pot
Strainer
Mugs
Knife

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