When I first heard about sticky chai—it seemed like a bizarre concoction that did good old stovetop chai as it’s been made for hundreds of years a great injustice. But as we prepare to spend this holiday season away from the ones we love, the possibilities of sticky chai masala (that can be mailed across the country and then stored in the fridge for a month!) began to intrigue me.
So I’m taking a note out of the Aussie sticky chai book and gifting little jars to all my family this year. I’ve never found a chai masala that I really love or that can recreate the experience of making a hot cup of chai to curl up and catch up with loved ones over. But I’ve now tested several versions to get this as close as possible to the from-scratch experience!
inches of fresh ginger, or 2 teaspoons of dried tea cut ginger
whole Aranya peppercorns
pods Baraka Cardamom (or more if you're using old/stale cardamom!)
large cinnamon stick
whole fennel seeds
loose-leaf black tea
honey (or date syrup or maple syrup!), plus more as needed
If using fresh ginger, mince it as finely as you can manage. I promise that this extra step is worth the time!
In a mortar and pestle, gently crush the cardamom pods, pepper and fennel. Just enough to release some oils and break ‘em up, not to powder.
Break up your cinnamon stick into small pieces.
In the jar, mix your spices, black tea and sweetener with a spoon. You want it to be the texture of wet granola, so add more sweetener if it looks too dry after a thorough mix.
The masala will keep in your fridge for up to a month.
To use one batch of sticky chai masala to make 4 small cups of chai, bring 4 cups of your choice of dairy or nondairy milk plus 1 cup of water to a boil. Add the entire batch of chai masala and stir. Boil on high heat until the mixture bubbles up once, or even twice if you like a creamier chai. I know chai is done to my preferred consistency when it looks a little darker than iced coffee. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and enjoy!