Right now it’s in the single digits in New York City—appropriate for January, but still a bit extreme! Staying warm and cozy indoors is the perfect recipe for dealing with winter wherever you are, which can be enhanced by the perfect cup of tea.
I’ve been a chai connoisseur for most of my tea-drinking life, but thus far all my favorite blends have included black tea and thus a nice hit of caffeine—something I’ve been avoiding for the last few months. There’s also been many misses on the spice front; even my favorites could vary from batch to batch, and there’s nothing worse than a cup of tea that’s screaming ginger or clove without a sweet, softening balance.
Hence my homemade, caffeine-free chai. The combination of spices isn’t 100% traditional—namely with the addition of turmeric—but for me it’s just right. Feel free to experiment based on your taste preferences, including whether to shift into the spicy or sweet flavors or keep it balanced. Note that using dry spices will be more intense and, obviously, drying, which could exacerbate the dryness that’s so prevalent when cooped up in heated rooms. So if you’re feeling especially dry, choose whole spices and fresh ginger, which maintain some earthy moisture and oil.
Homemade Vegan Caffeine-Free Chai Tea
- 2 star anise pods
- 8 cardamom pods
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorn
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1/2- inch fresh ginger sliced into thin rounds
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 dry date chopped
- 3 cups water
- 2/3 cups oat milk
- Combine the anise, cardamom, peppercorns, and fennel in a small bowl. Use the base of a knife or the back of a spoon to gently crush the spices and release some of the oils. Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle to crush slightly.
- Add the crushed spices, the remainder of the spices, the date, and the water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer and cover lightly for 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat, cover fully, and let the tea steep for 5 minutes.
- Strain the solids into 2 mugs, and cover lightly to keep warm. Rinse the pot lightly, then add the milk. Bring to a boil so that the milk just froths along the edges. Remove from heat, then top the tea with the steamed milk. Enjoy!