It can get chilly down here at the end of the world. Vibrant sticky turmeric chai tea comes to the rescue. This aromatic, spicy cup of sunshine is the perfect “cuddle” on a cool day.
This version of chai is “sticky” because it contains wet ingredients such as honey and grated fresh roots of turmeric and ginger. Once you have made it up, you can have a stash in the fridge ready to brew with the milk of your choice.
Fresh turmeric root has a lighter, slightly fruitier flavour than dried. When I can get my hands on some I always make a batch of this chai. Don’t stress if you cannot find it, you can substitute with turmeric paste.
This recipe is just a guide. Juggle the spices and use what you have on hand. This is the version I like.
Add more honey if you have a sweet tooth, more cinnamon for a warmer brew, omit the star anise if licorice is not your thing. Add other weird and wonderful things – powdered vanilla pod is super yum if you are feeling extravagant.
Choose your own adventure and experiment!
Chai is a warming brew. The spices are aromatic digestives, soothing spasm and inflammation in the digestive tract. The brew is chock full of antioxidants.
Chai without caffeine?
If you are not a fan of black tea or you just don’t want the caffeine, you can still enjoy chai. Substitute either rooibos or roasted dandelion root for the black tea. Easy!
You will find rooibos brings a warmer, gentler taste letting the spices shine through. Roasted dandelion root imparts a toasty flavour with a slightly bitter edge.
Where did chai tea originate?
Chai originated in India where the word chai, simply means “tea”.
In the 1830s the British established the first tea plantations in Assam to feed its nation’s voracious appetite for the beverage. The Indians soon embraced black tea too, adding their own spicy twist!
Black tea was an expensive commodity. In the typical Indian fashion, a variety of spices made their way into the brew with added milk and jaggery (unrefined cane sugar).
Now the rest of the world has embraced chai. It has become a popular drink in East Africa, the Middle East, the UK, America … and even here, at the end of the earth in Tasmania!
- 10 cardamom pods
- 2 sticks cinnamon or cassia
- 5 star star anise
- 8 cloves
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp black pepper corns
- 2 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger root
- 1 - 2 tbsp finely grated fresh turmeric root (or turmeric paste)
- 50g honey
- 50g black tea leaves (can substitute with rooibos or roasted dandelion root)
- Place all the dry spices in a small pan over medium heat. Dry roast for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Be very careful not to brown or burn them, especially the fennel seeds.
- Place the dry spices in a mortar and pestle and or food processor and pound/process until they are broken down into smaller pieces but not powdered.
- Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.
If you do not have fresh turmeric root on hand you can substitute with turmeric paste - you can find the recipe here.
To make chai
Chai is mostly brewed on milk. Plant-based milks are great when you cannot have dairy milk. Almond milk pairs really well with chai.
For every 1 cup of milk use 2 tsp of the sticky chai mix. You might want more if you like a strong brew.
Place the sticky chai in the bottom of a saucepan with just enough water to cover. Bring to a gentle simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add the milk. Bring to a gentle simmer again. When the brew is to your liking, strain and serve topped with a little freshly grated dried nutmeg.