My first introduction to chai was through my now-husband-then-boyfriend. Given the fact that I've heard the comment "would you like a little coffee in your milk?" on more than one occasion it's no surprise that I instantly fell in love with this wondrous drink: chai - otherwise known as "Indian tea".* With it's high caffeine content a novice has to be careful of his/her consumption, but it's still my favorite drink. I just can't drink it as often as I would like.
Imagine my surprise, after having traditional every day chai (sometimes several times a day when my Indian in-laws visited), when I ordered my first Starbucks chai. Not. The. Same. Thing. It was like autumn had taken all her baking spices and threw up in my milk steeped tea. Which I suppose is fine if you are expecting it and haven't had it the normal way 100+ times, but not so much if you are used to it less spicy. Kind of funny when you stop and think that a US way of doing something is more spicy than the average Indian way. (Not to be confused with chai masala - which by definition is spicy tea.)
Let me point out - there are a TON of ways to make chai and in my experience even the same family can argue over whose is better (naturally) - but it still isn't going to stop and make you wonder if there is pumpkin pie floating around in the saucepan. You still taste the TEA. That's kinda the main focus: tea and milk.
Let me also point out that you should never call it chai tea. It's a little on the redundant side. If you want to get technical, I believe that chai is the plant and tea is the product, but blah blah blah blah blah - yea just don't call it chai tea. Most people in the know will just tell you it's like saying "tea tea". There's a recipe floating around on pinterest that not only calls it chai tea, but also included powdered creamer in it's list of horrendous ingredients. I'd post a link, but the lady seems nice enough and people like her version. Who am I to go all internet cray-cray and be like "HOW DARE YOU!!!!" as if I've been drinking it since birth.
This post really was just an excuse for me to post an internet recipe for chai I like. So here is the basic recipe I follow. And no, I don't like this recipe simply because she agrees with a bunch of what I have written here. I like it because this is very similar to what we make here at home, and what we most encounter over in India. We usually add around 4-5 crushed cardamon pods for 2 large mugs of chai. Sometimes we use ginger and every ONCE IN AWHILE we use nutmeg INSTEAD. We also add our sugar later as to not boil too much off, but that's something new we are doing so we can add less sugar.
And don't forget the biscuits. Because my father-in-law would be disappointed with you and he is a very nice man. Definitely don't forget the biscuits.
*In certain parts of India when I ask for chai, I am served English tea. I'm fairly certain it's because I am caucasian because it never happens to my husband, but I've learned to specify "Indian tea" when I want my beloved chai.
** Disclosure: If you are going through IVF treatments, then you are supposed to limit your caffeine. That might be hard to do once you drink chai a few times, so don't say I didn't warn you.