Ever since working at a café known for its delicious milky chai I have been on a mission to recreate my own equally delicious chai. During my café days I learned that the secret to an incredible chai was not lots of cinnamon like I had imagined. The make-it or break-it ingredient was in-fact cardamom. Green cardamom seed pods to be exact.
Cardamom is a staple in many kitchen pantry's. Most recipes call for cardamom powder, which is made from the ground up black seeds inside the green pods. Cardamom is a great medicinal herb known for its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, carminative properties. It helps clear stagnation, congestion and moves mucus out of the lungs and digestive tract. Think of the cardamom to help clear wet coughs. As a carminative it helps with gas and indigestion and is useful after a big meal.
Anytime you are preparing a tea made from mostly roots, seeds, bark or berries you will want to use a process known as decoction. A decoction simply means the ingredients are simmered on low heat for a minimum of 30 minutes. This allows for the herb to more fully break down and release its medicine. I always aim for 60 minutes of simmering, but you can decoct chai and other similar herbs for hours.
A few years ago I kicked my daily caffeine habit and now I am super sensitive to caffeine. For this recipe I like to use herbal rooibos to make a caffeine free chai. Feel free to substitute with your favorite Assam black tea for the full caffeinated effect.
CARDAMOM CHAI RECIPE
- 2 heaping tbsp of green cardamom pods
-1 inch knob of fresh ginger
-1 tsp black pepper corns
-1/2 stick of cinnamon
-1 tbsp. carob or dandelion root
- 2-3 tsp rooibos or Assam black tea
- Splash of milk/ nut mylk
- 4 Cups water
Using a knife, crack open the cardamom pods. Chop up the fresh ginger root (feel free to leave the peel on). Add the cardamom, ginger, black pepper, cinnamon and carob/dandelion to a pot. Cover the herbs with 4 cups of water and bring to gentle boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 60 minutes (or longer). Add the rooibos or black tea and simmer for an additional 3-5 minutes. Strain out the herbs. Store extra chai in a glass quart jar and store in the fridge for 1-4 days. Gently heat up to serve. Add a splash (or more!) of milk or nut mylk while reheating.