I’m definitely a late comer to the masala chai tea party. My first taste was frankly quite off putting – a very bland and thin offering concocted with a barely waved chai tea bag introduced into a pot of hot water. A jug of cold milk on the side. Politely I accepted a cup and wondered what all the fuss was about, making a mental note to stay well clear. Until recently a friend insisted I try a properly made wet chai. What a difference a good brew makes.
Chai simply translates as “tea” in Indian and masala chai as “spiced tea”. There are no hard and fast rules as to which spices to use but most contain a heady and warming mix of cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, ginger and star anise. You can buy chai spice mix ready to be added to loose leaf black tea or premixed chai tea at specialist tea shops and upmarket grocers. Of course you can always put together your own spice blend, if so inclined, a suggestion for an easy home made loose leaf chai spice tea blend is included at the bottom of this post to get you started.
Spiced tea leaves in hand, I prefer to brew up a chai concentrate, use what I need and store the remainder in a glass jar in the refrigerator, ready to go. As I love to add freshly frothed milk to my spiced tea – masala chai latte has fast become my brew of choice. A worthy rival to my beloved cappuccino, no less. And as I’m feeling particularly generous, I’ll let you into a little secret – it’s always easier to create a creamier froth using skim over regular milk with an espresso machine at home, hence skinny masala chai latte is the go. With just 83 calories per cup serve, it also happens to tick all the boxes for a perfect 5-2 fast day pick me up. Deliciously warming and satisfying, proof that fasting doesn’t need to be boring or anti social.
Skinny Masala Chai Latte
83 calories per cup serve
1/3 cup chai concentrate (2 calories)
2/3 cup skim milk (60 calories)
1 teaspoon honey (21 calories)
POUR 1/3 cup warm chai concentrate into a glass.
STEAM and froth 2/3 of a cup skim milk and add to the chai concentrate. I find it easiest to use my espresso machine’s frothing wand. Alternatively warm milk in a small saucepan on the stove top over low heat, then use an immersion or stick blender to froth milk.
ADD honey to sweeten. Serve.
2 heaped tablespoons loose leaf chai spiced tea, purchased or home blended (recipe follows)
1 1/2 cups (375ml) freshly boiled water
PLACE chai spiced tea blend into the infuser of a two cup teapot , add freshly boiled water.
ALLOW to steep for 5-7 minutes. Remove the infuser, use immediately or allow to cool and refrigerate in a glass jar until required.
Easy Home Made Loose Leaf Chai Spice Tea Blend
Makes about 4 tablespoons
4 whole green cardamom pods, cracked
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
3cm piece cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 tablespoons black (assam or ceylon) loose tea leaves
DRY ROAST the spices in a hot oven until aromatic. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and pound until coarsely crushed.
ADD assam loose leaf tea, stir to combine. Store in an air tight container until required.