First off, let me get something off my chest, Chai means Tea, so saying Chai Tea is quite redundant. Why not just call it Chai? I’m pretty sure everyone knows what you mean. Chai is a spicy delicious combination of spices and tea leaves. I must admit that most store-bought and streamlined coffee-shop versions of Chai aren’t to my liking. It’s the black tea… I much prefer Rooibos tea leaves: lighter tasting, delicate and aromatic, without caffeine. You can find rooibos chai in stores, but you can just as easily make it yourself! So you can adjust the spices to your taste and preferences. I like fresh ginger, cinnamon sticks and can never get enough cardomom, so if I have the time I go for a tisane that is made from scratch each time. However, if I am pressed for time, I combine roughly ground dry spices with the rooibos, and store it for future use in an air-tight container.
Basically you combine:
Cinnamon sticks (roughly ground) I definitely don’t recommend using store-bought ground cinnamon, it makes your tea pasty.
Either sliced or freshly grated ginger root (if you are brave you can attempt dry ground ginger, but I don’t recommend it, for the same reason I cited above).
A few star anise (it’s quite overpowering, so don’t go overboard, 3-4 for a 100-150 g Chai preparation should suffice.
You can chop up half a nutmeg, or roughly ground it. Here again, I advise against using the store-bought ground nutmeg, and like star anise, it’s also very strong, so use sparingly.
Throw in some fennel seeds (sweet cumin, as they say in Arabic).
Cardamom pods… 30-40 pods for a 150g preparation.
And if you want, a few rose petals (you can go fresh for each infusion or crunch up some dried ones, I highly recommend you don’t skip this step!).
Add 80-100g of rooibos tea leaves, and you are set!
You may also add peppercorns and mint, if you like (though I’d leave the mint separate and add it each time you make your tea, as it can overpower everything else and make your Chai bitter).
PS: The closest roobois chai that I’ve found to my liking is the one prepared by Neekoo (a tea company based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada).