Easy Adrak Chai (Ginger Tea)

Adrak Chai Brewing on the Stovetop

‘Chai’ is the name for tea in India. Here in the US, we’ve come to associate it with tea combined with spices, but that’s actually a specific type of tea: Masala chai. I learned that and other fun facts the other week when helping an Indian coworker, Anita, with a digital publishing issue.

Masala chai, she told me, is typically enjoyed on special occasions. Regular chai is prepared stove top in a sauce pan with the addition of milk and sugar only. Other variations include elaichi chai (cardamom tea) and adrak chai (ginger tea).

Anita told me how to make real chai — not the ‘sissy chai latte’ (her words) you find in most places. It’s surprisingly easy.

I went to my nearest Indian grocery store to get the ingredients and was amazed at the selection of tea they offered — mostly Assam, of course. Assam is what’s used to prepare chai, and popular tea brands used in India include Lipton Yellow Label and Brooke Bond Red Label. I bet PG Tips would work fine too.

You may use any type of Assam tea, but I wouldn’t bother with premium, high-priced teas for this purpose because the tea serves as a background or basis for other flavors. Even if you prepare chai without any spices, you’re still adding milk and sugar.

I brought home Brooke Bond Red Label loose tea (in addition to other unnecessary impulse purchases, including other teas and biscuits). Originally, I was going to prepare regular chai but ended up making adrak (ginger) chai because I felt the symptoms of a cold coming on and thought the ginger would help sooth my scratchy throat … and it did.

Here are the ingredients needed for one serving of adrack chai (you can easily adjust for more if needed):

  • Assam tea (loose leaf, one teaspoon)
  • Ginger root
  • Water, one cup
  • Milk
  • Sugar

Cut a few (I use 4 – 5 quarter-inch thick) slices of ginger and place them in a saucepan with the water. Bring the water to a boil. Just before boiling, add one teaspoon of loose tea. Reduce to a simmer and add milk and sugar to taste. Let simmer for 2 – 3 minutes or until the tea reaches a rich brown color. Pour the tea through a strainer (a tea strainer is a good thing to have on hand) into your cup.

This tea is so rich and delicious, it’s almost a dessert unto itself.