Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Warming Vanilla Chai

Hello, dear ones! I hope you've been having a lovely holiday. If you're getting to enjoy a few more long leisurely mornings with your kids, this is a lovely way to make them even lovelier. Or brew up a pot next week when the kids get home from school, to make a gloomy darkling afternoon a little more fragrant, a little warmer. Sending love and all best wishes for you in the new year. xo

I was inspired to start making chai because of a facebook post an old friend had written that was really just a photo of the hot spiced cider she'd made her kids on a weekend morning. It seemed like such a lovely thing! But we didn't have cider.
To make the chai, you will need these things. And if you have other things, use those instead. For instance, ground spices are okay! Not ideal, but okay. I have definitely used them and it was definitely better than having no chai at all.

2 cups water
3 thickish slices fresh ginger, smashed with the side of a heavy knife
1 tablespoon green cardamom pods, smashed up a little with a knife side or in a mortar and pestle (or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom)
½ a cinnamon stick, likewise (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
½ teaspoon peppercorns, ditto (if you only have ground pepper, skip it)
3 black tea bags (I use a decaffeinated vanilla-scented black tea made by Bigelow)
2 cups milk, ideally whole
2 teaspoons vanilla
Honey to taste, between 1 and 3 tablespoons

If you have to skip an ingredient, make it not be the cardamom, although ground is okay, as long as it's nice and fresh-smelling.
Put the water in a smallish pot with the ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and pepper. Bring it to a boil over medium heat, then turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, 5 minutes.

Add the tea bags and simmer another 3 minutes, then add the milk and heat just until it's hot.

If a splash of half and half ended up in the pot, nobody would complain or even know.
Stir in the vanilla and honey to taste, then pour the chai through a sieve into a tea pot, making a hugely ginormous mess as you go. (Pouring it into a spouted measuring cup will make this process a little tidier.) Enjoy!


  1. Oooh, I've always wanted to know how to make this. Yes, just right for these deliciously drawn-out mornings with the kids...yum! Thank you!!

  2. I love making homemade chai. You also get the added benefit of a lovely scent filling your house:)

  3. Anonymous12:31 AM

    Cloves are also a good addition, if you are so inclined.

    1. Yes! With a light touch. They are very bossy, flavorwise. xo

  4. I've never tried Chai and this might be the post which inspires me to do so! I just wanted to say a quick 'thank you', too, for your game recommendations. Santa brought 'Love Letters' this Christmas and it was a huge hit with my whole family (and, last year, he brought Settlers - also on your say so - which I love with a deep and worrisome passion).

    1. Yay! I know that deep and worrisome passion too well.

  5. Anonymous10:00 AM

    We made the tea on New Year's Day with friends and it was just perfect. (I know I can be needy when it comes to recipes sometimes, but when exactly do you put in the vanilla? With the spices? With the milk?)

    Also, thank you for all your gift suggestions! One of my daughters got the ukelele, my other got Counting by 7's, I go My Notorious Life, and my husband got the most coveted present of all--the reading headlamp. We all keep stealing that one. It's especially good for longish car rides when the sun has gone down and we really don't want to put the inside car light on for reading. And I have to agree about the Stabilo pen set we gave last year--it's fantastic. The only drawing set that actually has a holder that has lasted along with the pens. So easy to bring along somewhere, rather than digging around the pencil box with a sandwich bag saying "but I just need to find a green and a yellow..." Thank you and happy new year! --Cathy K

    P.S. Also had to tell you, made the latkes for my first grader's class for Hanukkah and for Christmas breakfast, made the pink dip for a party, soup of a 1000 vegetables just yesterday, and am making the salmon with the madatory green sauce tonight. As with so many readers, you have become a regular part of our lives. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am so happy to hear about all these good things! And you add the vanilla with the honey. (I just edited to reflect that.) Thank you for catching/asking. xo

  6. Marcy K11:33 AM

    This sounds delicious. Here is a link to a Chai concentrate that is super easy and very delicious, for times when you may need a speedier solution:
    It is great to have in the refrigerator - keeps for many weeks, as the recipe indicates. But ours doesn't usually last that long.

  7. Jamie3:10 PM

    Thank you for the headlamp recommendation! I know of at least seven that have been purchased because of you. I love it for myself, as I get closer to 50 (!!!) my eyes are not exactly improving and now I can read on the sofa without the rest of the family being blinded by a reading lamp. Also, randomly, finally got around to making your mac and cheese and it has earned a place in our rotation. You are the only person who could get me to buy Velveeta ;)

  8. alison8:05 PM

    I would love for somebody to make me that tea it seems a little too complicated to do myself!

  9. Anonymous2:40 PM

    Oh my days not chai related but where oh where have your old baby centre journals gone?!! I'm newly home with new baby & it's my comfort ritual to read your early birdy days ones again! Can you bring them back again?!! Please please