The best chai I’ve ever tasted was made by Hafizullah Sufi for his weekly classes. Here’s his original recipe.
1 cup fresh chopped ginger root
10 star anise
2 tbsp cardamom seed
1 to 1½ tbsp coriander seed
1 tbsp whole cloves or ½ tbsp clove powder
5–6 stix of cinnamon
?–1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
1½ cups white cane sugar
Optional: 1tsp. fresh ground nutmeg (careful with this; easy to over-do)
Five quarts spring water
One quart half-and-half
Fill a pot with five quarts of spring water. Bring to a boil and add ingredients. Simmer ( = occasional bubbles but not boiling) for half an hour, or more if time allows.
At 10 minutes before serving, bring to a boil and add one to two cups loose black tea or the equivalent in tea bags. (“Assam” is the traditional variety.) Remove from heat and let steep for 8 minutes. Add 1 quart of half-and-half. Stir, strain, and serve.
After the first serving, this chai will last for about a week in refrigeration before taking-on an astringent taste or becoming slightly viscous, a sign that it’s about to go bad. If viscosity is observed, dump it. If it’s re-heated almost to a boil before refrigeration, it will last quite a bit longer. Reheating it is not harmful, and it can be reheated any number of times until it’s gone.
Note: Sugar substitutes do not work. Milk substitutes do not work. Use at least whole milk, and half-&-half is closer to what’s used in India, which is water-buffalo milk.
Real chai is not for wimp-ass vegans or anyone afraid to really savor the few breaths we have in these bodies. …