For Creamier Cups Of Chai, Boil Your Tea Twice

In a world that is often hurried and bustling, the timeless allure of a steaming cup of chai remains a cherished ritual that transcends cultures and continents. Originating from India, this aromatic spiced tea has become a global favorite, spawning countless spice blends, tea bags, and concentrates. For an authentic cup of comfort, there is no better method than preparing chai on the stovetop with black tea, your favorite spices and sweetener, and of course, creamy milk. The factor that sets chai apart from a cup of spiced milk tea is the rich mouthfeel of the milk that comes from bringing the mixture to the boiling point twice.

Many discourage boiling tea because the temperature of the water will over-extract the aromatics. That can lead to bitter flavors. In the case of chai, however, boiling is necessary for the tea flavor to hold its own against the flavorful spices. That's a good thing because it's that boiling that also slightly evaporates the milk and causes milk proteins to concentrate, leading to the signature creaminess of a well-crafted cup of chai. Bringing the milk to a boil, stirring to cool, and then boiling again gives the milk enough heat to thicken slightly but not so much that it curdles.

A watched chai pot won't boil over

To make your chai, begin with black tea leaves, preferably a robust Assam. CTC (crush, torn, curl) grade tea is commonly used for chai because of its strong flavor profile. The spices themselves are key; cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, and black peppercorns form the heart of the chai. You can make a house blend that fits your taste exactly with a little delicious experimentation.

In a saucepan, combine water, spices, sweetener, and the tea leaves. Sweetening your chai is a matter of personal taste; sugar, honey, or alternative sweeteners can do the job. Bring the mixture to a boil to awaken the spices and extract the tea flavor. Next, add milk, allowing the milk to heat slowly to the boiling point while stirring, allowing it to nearly boil over. Allow your tea to cool and then boil again before finally straining the chai into your favorite mug. There you have it; a creamy cup of chai, a comforting blend of tradition and flavor, inviting you to slow down and savor the moment.