Here it is! My full vegan recipe for chai—also known as “chaa” in the Gujarati language. This chai is a variation on classic Indian spiced milk tea made with black loose leaf tea. I use a higher ratio of nondairy milk to water to give a creamier end result. I also like adding lemongrass and mint, which are not the most common additions, but something I learned from my parents! I’ve also listed some additional tips, so make sure to continue reading.
“This recipe reflects my own preferences…feel free to tailor it to your own!”
There is no single correct way of making chai, and people tend to have their own particular method and ratios. This recipe reflects my own preferences so feel free to tailor it to your own!
To make this chai, you will need:
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 3 black peppercorns
- 4 green cardamom pods
- 3/4 cup water
- Two 1/4 inch slices fresh ginger
- 2-inch stalk of lemongrass, sliced
- 4-5 tsp raw sugar, to taste
- 4 tsp loose leaf black tea
- 2 sprigs fresh mint (about 10 leaves)
- 2 cups unsweetened soy or oat milk
Begin by placing the dry spices — fennel, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, and cardamom – in a mortar and pestle. Grind the spices to break them down slightly. Do not create a powder. If you do not have a mortar and pestle you can skip this step, but try to cut open the cardamom pods with a knife.
Add water to at least a 2-quart size saucepan and add fresh ginger, lemongrass, sugar, and dry spices. I like using raw sugar for chai as it lends a nice caramel flavor.
Feel free to substitute with your own preferred sweetener such as maple syrup or leave it out altogether. Heat at medium-high heat and once the water boils, reduce the heat to low-medium and simmer for about 2 minutes.
“I like using raw sugar for chai as it lends a nice caramel flavor.”
“I also like adding lemongrass and mint…something I learned from my parents!”
Add the tea leaves and mint leaves and simmer further for around 2 minutes. There should remain just enough water so that the spices and tea leaves remain submerged. You may need to add a bit more water if too much evaporates during the boiling process.
Loose-leaf black tea is readily available at Indian grocery stores or online. The Chai Box (not sponsored) has a great blend of three black teas called “True Blend”.
Add milk, increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. My favorite brands of non-dairy milk for chai are: Whole Foods brand unsweetened soy milk and Oatly brand original oat milk (not sponsored). I do not recommend nut milk for chai as they tend to be too watery or can separate/curdle.
“I use a higher ratio of nondairy milk to water to give a creamier end result.”
Allow the mixture to boil to the brim of the saucepan, then remove from heat for about 30 seconds. Return to heat and boil once more. Once the tea boils to the brim for a second time, remove from heat and set aside for about a minute. Drain the tea using a fine sieve into mugs/glasses. This recipe makes 2 servings. Enjoy!
I hope you’ll try it out, and if you post to Instagram use #plantbasedartist! I’d love to see your creations.
Text & Photography: Sheil Shukla. Find more of Sheil’s recipes on Plant Based Artist.