Perfect homemade chai. (A recipe.)

This is a repost from last autumn. And I thought we could all use this recipe again on this cool September morning.

Make it with nettle, raspberry leaf, and rooibos tea, or substitute black tea for a more traditional caffinated version.

My favorite drink. Ever.




Perfect homemade chai. (recipe!) | Clean.

Perfect homemade chai. (recipe!) | Clean.

Perfect homemade chai. (recipe!) | Clean.

Some time ago I shared my old nettle chai recipe with you. And really, it's good. So good.

But since that time I have continued to tweak and refine the recipe, week after week.

Like so many things, cooking – and yes,
simply making tea – is a living process around here. And where that
recipe is at now – well, that old version just can't hold a candle to

So I jotted down my latest recipe for you. The changes are minor –
just four new ingredients. But to drink it is to love it. As in
seriously obsessively love it.

It's crazy good.

This newest incarnation of chai is spicy and sassy and sweet and amazing.

And caffeine-free to boot without feeling like something was
forgotten. I loved the nettle version I shared with you before, but it
always felt just a little too thin to me. I knew the black tea wasn't
there. But this version? You won't even miss it.

That being said, you can also throw in up to six black tea bags to
make yours with a caffienated kick. If I'm jonsing for caffeine I'll
often make the whole pot without, then add a single tea bag to my cup.
Then the kids can enjoy from the pot and I can have a little jolt at the
same time.

What is different from last recipe?

Here are the four magical tweaks:

Perfect homemade chai. (recipe!) | Clean.

1. Rooibos

When I cut out the black tea I really missed the dark richness that
it gave. The mouth feel of black tea. And no matter what I added I just
couldn't reproduce that. Until I tried rooibos. Rooibos is herbal but
has the dark richness and thicker mojo of black tea, without the cranky

2. Star anise

Lupine would tell you it's cute (always helpful in a spice) and she's
working on hot gluing one she swiped from my spice cabinet to a
barrette. I'm more interested in the smooth, floral edge it lends. Of
all four tweaks this is the most subtle, so if you are out of star anise
charge forth without it. I add one to a large pot of chai.

Perfect homemade chai. (recipe!) | Clean.

3. Chili powder

Holymoses. I don't know what compelled me to first put chili powder in my tea. (Truly. I have absolutely. No. Idea.)

But since the first morning I did I don't think I've skipped a day.
It's surreal how transcendentally good even a humble cup of black or red
tea is with a pinch of chili powder. (My standard morning tea is now a
cup of black tea with a pinch of ground ginger and a pinch of chili

And in chai? It's spicy heaven. If you are terrified of spice start
slowly but if you are feeling brave add a decent pinch. Good morning!

It's freaking fantastic I tell you.

Do be sure your chili powder is just ground chilies. We don't want salt or funny chili seasoning blend in our tea.

Perfect homemade chai. (recipe!) | Clean.

4. Coconut sugar

Oh, coconut sugar. Where have you been all my life?

We long ago gave up refined sugar of all types. (Except that type in that hidden pint of ice cream in the back of the freezer. Shhhh…) When we began to eat more Paleo foods we discovered coconut sugar in lots of recipes.

And unlike agave's tarnished reputation and recent fall from hippie
food glory, coconut sugar is clean. We reach for it often because it
doesn't jack your blood sugar. (A good thing for lots of health reasons.
Please don't bring up that ice cream.) It's also easy on your gut and has a more subtle flavor than honey, maple, or stevia in recipes. 

But enough chatter. Let's get on to the recipe, shall we?

Are you ready? Because if you are, know that you'll want this every day. Consider yourself warned.

Perfect homemade chai. (recipe!) | Clean.

Perfect homemade chai. (recipe!) | Clean.

Perfect homemade chai. (recipe!) | Clean.

Perfect homemade chai. (recipe!) | Clean.

Rooibos-Nettle Chai

2 tsp Cardamon seeds or 2 T cardamon pods (ideally crushed with a
mortar and pestle but whole works okay too if your lack of a spice
grinder would stop you)

1/2 tsp whole peppercorns

Scant 1/2 tsp cloves

x 2" piece of fresh ginger, sliced thin or smashed with the butt end of a knife handle (or substitute 1 scant tsp dried ginger)

1 star anise

1-2 cinnamon sticks or 1 Tb cinnamon bark chips

1/4 tsp chili powder or 1 small whole dried chile

1/2 cup dried nettle

1/3 cup raspberry leaf

1/4 cup rooibos tea

coconut sugar to taste (1-3 tsp per cup, approximately)

milk of your choice (I use raw cow milk but it's outstanding with homemade coconut-almond milk as well.)

Perfect homemade chai. (recipe!) | Clean.

Perfect homemade chai. (recipe!) | Clean.

Bring 6 cups water to a boil with the spices. Cover and simmer for 5 to 25 minutes, depending on how spicy you like your chai.

Add nettle, raspberry leaf, and rooibos. (Note: While both nettle
and raspberry leaf are safe, healthful herbs, nettle can be a bit
drying to your system. In the winter feel free to leave it out if you
are feeling dry. I add it because I appreciate the minerals. Listen to
your body on this one if you drink it often.)

Remove from heat and steep covered for 15 minutes. 

Strain out and compost your herbs. (Or if you simmered your spices
for a shorter amount of time, strain out the first batch of chai, then
add 4 cups of water to the herbs, simmer covered for 10 minutes, and
then remove from heat. Let it steep all day. You'll have a second batch
of chai that's almost as good as the first for no additional effort.)

Transfer your chai infusion to a glass jar and store in the fridge for up to a week.

To drink, combine 3 parts chai with 2 parts milk or whatever
proportions your palate dictates. Warm and sweeten with coconut sugar to
taste (also lovely is half coconut sugar and half honey, or just honey
if you don't have coconut sugar on hand).

Drink and enjoy, and wonder how you ever lived a day without this chai.



9 thoughts on “Perfect homemade chai. (A recipe.)

  1. Josephine washington says:

    Thanks again for a wonderful tweaked recipe. I know, I held my breath when I added chili pepper to a spiced fruit salad!

  2. Karen C says:

    Love this chai recipe! I have had a few cups myself over the past week or so. Do you use red rooibos? I use green, but it still tastes wonderful. Thanks for the re-post!

  3. jackie says:

    I’m so excited about this recipe – I loooove chai, as does my 2yr old son. 🙂
    I have a LOT of this organic tea blend left that I drank while pregnant – it contains spearmint, lemon balm, nettle leaf, dandelion, raspberry leaf, oatstraw, alfalfa, ginger, and lemon. Do you think I could use this in place of the rooibos? I love rooibos, but I am not sure where to purchase it (online?) and I would like to use up this tea first. Do you think all of the ingredients are safe for my toddler? I’m also nursing my 5-month old. Thanks in advance for your advice!

  4. ashilleong says:

    I love the taste of rooibos, but make sure you check where it comes from. Some of the African rooibos is grown in areas where cultivation has almost completely wiped out some very rare plant species.

  5. Vivian Perry Child says:

    Thought you might like this bit of poetry i read in a back issue of the u.k. CountryLiving magazine ( oct. 2000)

    “You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
    Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
    Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for picking.”

    From”Blackberry-Picking” by Seamus Heaney

  6. Rachel Marie says:

    where do you buy your ingredients? I’ve never bought some of these (like nettle and raspberry leaf) and I’m not sure where to get the best at the most affordable price.

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