Uber Geek Recipe

2018-03-05

Since I first published my recipe all those years ago, things have changed quite a bit. I've spent a lot of time geeking out on the process and tweaking it to make the absolute best chai ever. I even actually weigh everything now instead of measuring, it's far more accurate and reproducable.

To start out with, you'll need a really big stock pot, one that can handle 8 quarts of boiling water and can still be handled and poured without spilling. Add 8 quarts of water to it and start heating up. I've found it takes around 35 minutes on my stove to get to boiling.

Start prepping the ingredients. Thankfully, we're doing a much longer boil time so things like grinding up the cloves or breaking apart the peppercorns don't really matter. We'll get the essense of whatever ingredients are added no matter what.

Here's what you'll be adding:

  • 5g Allspice
  • 10.1g Star Anise
  • 4.1g Fennel
  • 2.1g Cloves
  • 10g Black Peppercorn
  • 22.2g Cardamom (I often use only seeds and bring this down a bit)
  • 120.5g Cinnamon (I use flat sticks, it's just bark, not the fancy cinnamon sticks from the coop)

Add all of the above to the heating water, let come to a boil. Reduce heat so that it's at a slow boil. It can take a bit to get this much water dialed in so it's not going to fast or too slow. Cover completely, don't leave the lid cracked or you'll lose too much water to evaporation. Let boil for approximately 3 hours.

If you're familiar with my previous recipe, you'll notice that we didn't add the ginger with everything else. This is because of the way that ginger dissolves into water. The longer that it goes, the more bitter it becomes. If we added the ginger now, it would be a very bitter batch of chai.

After about three hours, prepare 177g of ginger by thinly slicing it. Use the ginger from the coop if you can, you want the stuff with bright yellow flesh, not the larger ginger that's white. Add to the boiling water and boil for another 45 minutes to an hour.

At this point, you'll need a larger pot to strain stuff into. I have a thin mesh seive that works pretty well for filtering, really anything with a fine enough mesh to catch peppercorns should work. Transfer the excess spices to compost and rinse out the pot that everything was boiling in. Pour half the liquid from the larger pot into the smaller one. It should be about 3.5 quarts, I typically lose about a quart of water to evaporation. Transfer the other half to another pot that's large enough.

Next up is the tea. I currently use two different varieties, the Tower of London and All India blends from Harney and Sons. I buy it by the pound, loose leaf. I use about 65g of each, adding them staggered about 2.5 minutes apart so that I have time to strain each of them without going over a 5 minute steep time. I filter into the large pot then rinse out the main pot and transfer back, then repeat with the secondary.

After the tea has steeped, it's time to add the sugar. I use about 265g per, though usually don't actually measure it, just use about 2/3 of a cup. I'm no longer using brown sugar, instead I use a sugar I get at the coop called Turbinado. It's kind of a sugar in the raw, brown with large granules.

I don't add the milk right away anymore, instead I add that on a per-cup basis. Some of the people that I've given chai to also water it down with a little tap water, too. The new way of doing things does make some pretty strong concentrate.