Cozy up this fall with a cup of Chai

Subash Yadav Columnist


 Is it just me or has this fall weather just been amazing? I love this slow transition towards winter with beautiful colors everywhere. It has been such a great past few weeks. First it was Dushera celebrated all over southeast Asian countries, then Halloween, October fest (which I missed out on), and this past week was Diwali, festival of lights. This is when being away from home hits me hardest every year. It’s my favorite festival of all time. It’s like Christmas. We have the whole house decorated with lights, lots of rope lights, candles and also oil lamps. Everyone is wearing bright colorful clothes; there is food and sweets everywhere, as well as fireworks and gifts – I could go on forever. But think about what it’s like to be away from home for Christmas, and you’ll get the idea. Thanks to the Indian Students Association here at SDSU, who organized an event at the campus Lutheran center, students and faculty got together and had quite a wonderful time. I was able to attend the event this past Sunday where they had prayer service and then amazing food from all over India. All you foodies out there, if you have a foreign friend that can cook, you want to be their best friend. Trust me. 

Since I was talking about this brisk fall weather, one thing that makes it even better is a warm cup of chai. The word ‘chai’ means tea, so I always find it funny when people say ‘I like chai tea’. Throughout the world, tea is more commonly used than coffee. Tea has great health benefits (Google it if you don’t believe me). I am no tea expert by any means, but I know just enough to make good tea. 

Chai Tea:


 Chai tea:

2 cups whole milk

. cup water

2 table spoon loose black tea or 3 tea bags of earl grey/ English breakfast 

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/3rd tsp cardamom

Sugar to taste (brown sugar is better)

. inch fresh ginger/ . tsp ginger powder (optional)

1/8th tsp nutmeg (optional)

Bring water to boil, add tea leaves/tea bags for one min, add milk, ginger and other spices and simmer for about 5 minutes. Strain through a sieve/strainer into your cup and add sugar. Wallah! Your first chai from scratch is ready!

You should try few different things with this though, if you like pumpkin spice latte, substitute cardamom with some pumpkin pie spice. If you like your chai to have deeper flavor, add another bag of tea and simmer for longer than 5 minutes. Keep in mind, if you are using a saucepan with a thin bottom, you want to make this on medium heat and keep stirring it slowly with a spoon. Milk can burn easily in the bottom on high heat. 

Some other ingredients you should experiment with: star anise, cinnamon sticks instead of powder, bay leaf, crushed clove and making it in whole milk. 

Those of you who would like to try more green tea but think it’s bitter, here is a suggestion: green tea and white teas are pretty delicate. 

While black tea can be boiled for longer and still be okay, green tea turns bitter in boiling water. So next time you make green tea, when your water boils, take it off the heat, let it sit for about 5-8 minutes, then add the green tea. Water should be about 170-180 degrees. Let tea sit in hot water for about 3 minutes and strain or remove the tea bag from water. Sweeten with honey, agave or your choice of sweetener. Make herbal tea the same way.