Growing up in Melbourne, my earliest memories of chai was at St. Andrews market in the North East. Served under a large tent, the tea was steeped in soy milk for hours and ladled into mismatched porcelain mugs. After traipsing around the hippy-style market on a sunny Saturday afternoon, a spicy, milky cuppa was always the best part.
Although the work ‘chai’ simply means ‘tea’, in Melbourne ‘chai’ specifically refers to Indian-style chai masala; a mix of black tea, spices and herbs such as cinnamon and cardamom. Aside from markets, every good Melbourne cafe offers chai latte made either with sugary powder or from fresh tea leaves and frothy milk. You can even find ‘dirty chai’- a combination of chai tea and an espresso shot.
The only problem I had with chai was that I had no idea how to make it at home. I would buy teabags of chai, add boiled water and milk and let it sit for five minutes before taking the teabag out. The result was weak, tasteless and nothing like the chai I had at the market.
After researching how chai is made in India, I started experimenting at home. The key is to ‘cook’ the tea in the milk for an extended amount of time to get the full flavour of the ingredients. It can then be sweetened with either honey, sugar or maple syrup to your liking.
4 cups milk (either dairy, oat, soy, almond)
2 tsp Australian honey, sugar or maple syrup
Pour 4 cups of milk into a medium saucepan
Add 2 tbs (or 8 tsp) of tea to the milk
Bring milk to the boil
Once boiled, reduce heat and place lid on top
Let steep for 10-20 minutes (depending on how strong you like your tea)
Add honey or sugar and stir through
Once steeped, pour into a teapot with a filter. Alternatively, use a siev
e to filter the tea leaves out
Pour into our Signature Cup and enjoy!