It can get chilly down here at the end of the world. Vibrant sticky turmeric chai comes to the rescue. An aromatic, spicy cup of sunshine. Like a hug-in-a-mug on a cold day.
What is “sticky” chai?
Local honey and freshly grated roots of turmeric and ginger make this chai recipe sticky.
Fresh turmeric root has a lighter, slightly fruitier flavour than dried. When I can get my hands on fresh turmeric, I always make a batch of this chai. Don’t stress if you have none on hand, you can substitute with turmeric paste, find the recipe here.
Use this sticky chai recipe as a guide. Juggle the spices, use what you have on hand. This is the version I like, you can find the perfect fit for your palate.
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 delicious if you are feeling extravagant.
Choose your own adventure and experiment!
A gut-loving brew
The spices in chai are classified as “carminatives” in herbal medicine. These are plant remedies which are high in aromatic volatile oils.
Carminatives have the ability to soothe spasm and inflammation in the digestive tract. Relieving excess gas and flatulence.
Chai is also high in lots of other healthy compounds such as 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. Simply substitute either rooibos or roasted dandelion root for the black tea.
You will find rooibos imparts a more delicate flavour, allowing the spices to really shine through. Roasted dandelion root has a toasty flavour with a slightly bitter edge.
Where did chai tea originate?
Chai originated in India where the word chai, simply means “tea”. It is a beverage with a complex history.
In the 1830s British colonisers established the first tea plantations in Assam to feed England’s voracious appetite for the beverage. The Indians soon embraced black tea too, adding their own spicy twist!
Black tea was an expensive commodity for Indians. A variety of spices made their way into the brew with added milk and jaggery (unrefined cane sugar). These additions pleased the Indian palate and bulked out the tea.
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!
Do you drink chai? What’s your personal twist?
Sticky Turmeric Chai Tea
- 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.
Thank you for this lovely recipe Sarah. I left our the fennel seed and star anise as I don’t enjoy their flavours, and the result was so yummy. I’m sharing this recipe with all my friends now!
Wow, thanks Veronica . There are so many delicious spices you can play with that do not have the aniseed flavours. I often make little jars for friends and that includes all the spices I know they love. Enjoy ♥️
Can I suggest that by pouring boiling water on the honey you destroy the goodness ofit and some honey can turn bitter when you do this . I always make my chai without the honey, then add the milk or milk substitute to cool it somewhat, wait about 5 mins then stir in the honey …in fact honey shouldn’t be heated much over luke warm, but it will still taste good …just not with the goodNESS in it.
Unfortunately honey is pasteurized at 62C/145F, and many nutrients as well as microbes and enzymes are kost. Many of the health benefits will not survive a cup of tea. Cold preparations are the best way to reap the benefits, like the garlic honey recipe in the fermented garlic post. Honey is in this recipe mostly as a sweetener. So glad you LVE chai too! Agree it makes the best presents, I always tailor the spices to the palate of the recipient!!