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Oh the warm yummy decadence of it. Steaming hot spicy, milky, sugary chai. There’s nothing quite like it, and like all things good, its only great when its homemade.

If you’ve spent any time in South Asia, you know what we’re talking about. Chai-in-a-box just does not even come close. And don’t try to Decaf Soy Green Tea Chai Latte us either. No way. No how.

So other than in your local Indian or Nepali restaurant (or if you’re lucky, local Sherpa restaurant), where does one get a cup of real chai? Easy. You make it. Here’s how:

Sakura Bloom Chai:

-Get out a good size mug.

-Fill it with milk (its got to be cow’s milk, the higher the fat content the better!) and pour into a saucepan (the larger the better). (For those looking for a non-dairy alternative, check out this recipe for almond milk chai!)

-Then fill the same mug half-way with water and add to the pot. Repeat as many times as cups you’d like to make.

-Next add tea. Here you need to be counterintuitive: don’t use high-quality Darjeeling tea (or any prepared tea bags with masala spice in them). Instead get yourself some good low-grade tea dust just like they use in India: Brooke Bond Red Label Tea. I add one teaspoon per mug.

-Next add 1-2 teaspoons of sugar, 2 crushed cardamom pods, and 1-2 slices of fresh ginger per mug. When I’m feeling nutty, I add a teeny bit of freshly ground black pepper and/or some cloves or fennel or cinnamon. But mostly I just add cardamom and ginger.

-Bring it all to a boil, but watch to make sure that it doesn’t boil over, then let simmer as short or long as you like to let the flavors mingle (and caffeine ramp up if need be).

-Strain into a mug and drink! In the summer this same chai is delicious over ice and keeps in the fridge for several days. As you might have noticed, this recipe is pretty flexible. There are more ways to make chai than there are coffee shops in Seattle. So experiment to find what combination you like best and enjoy!

Need a little help pulling together all the ingredients? Try the online Chai Stall for a starter package–tea, spices, strainer–all for $20. They don’t know we’re sending you, but tell them we said hi anyway.

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