Chai – Variations on a Theme

There are three places in Oly to get really good Chai: The Bread Peddler on Capitol Way, Batdorf and Bronson on Capitol Way and Traditions on the corner of 5th and Water St.  All of these are on the spicier side, unlike the sweet sticky stuff you get at Starbucks. Personally, I enjoy the spicier versions. They give a warm balance to a sweet pastry or to a buttery cookie like shortbread or biscotti.

Chai is like a Chameleon, the same animal with a variety of colorful ingredients.  The most standard ingredients are Ginger, Sugar and Milk, however, depending on you tastes you can also add Cinnamon, Cardamon, Black Pepper Corns, Star Anise, cloves and sometimes saffron. The kind of tea you use is very important. I recommend Taj Mahal Black Tea or Red Rose Tea for a classic flavor. For something a little different you can try Lap Sang. It adds a rich, smoky taste that I find marries well with the spices.

Boiling is an important part of getting the right flavor for the Chai.  It needs to be boiled until it forms a film on the top. This burns off the raw milk taste. You can adjust the amount of ingredients to your personal taste.

Makes two cups of Chai:



3 slices Fresh Ginger

2 tsp. Black Tea

1/2 stick Cinnamon bark

4-5 Cardamon pods

1/4 tsp of Black Pepper Corns

1-2 Cloves


Add one and a half coffee cup full of water and one coffee cup full of milk and about two tsp of tea to a pot.  Bring to a boil.  Add 2 to 4 tbls. of sugar. Let boil for about 5 min and then add about three slices of fresh ginger. Boil for another 2-3 minutes, stirring often, before adding Cinnamon bark, Cardamon pods, Black Pepper Corns and Cloves. Keep boiling for another 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar as necessary during this time. Make sure you have a nice film on the top of your Chai before you remove it from the stove.  Pour through a strainer into your cup. Yum.


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