Homemade Decaf Chai Tea

by Ann Marie Michaels on November 14, 2011

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decaf chai

A couple of weeks ago, my relationship with chai tea was transformed.

I love chai tea, and I’ve had great chai tea in Indian restaurants. But drinking chai tea at home has always been a huge disappointment. Now I know why. Homemade chai tea made with fresh whole spices makes those chai teabags you buy in the store taste like wet cardboard.

A couple weeks ago, we toured Melody’s kitchen in the Real Food Kitchen Tour. She posted her recipe for homemade chai tea in the comments. It sounded so good to me, that I decided to give it a shot. I’m so glad I did.

I especially like the chai tea with coconut milk . I’ve been reading Coconut Cures: Preventing and Treating Common Health Problems with Coconut. In the book, Dr. Fife says that we should aim to get 3-4 tablespoons of coconut oil per day.

I am one of these people who really does not like taking coconut oil off the spoon. But guess what? Three ounces of coconut milk contains a little over 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. I have not found a better way to take my dose of coconut oil than this chai tea.

This recipe may sound like a lot of work but I have really been enjoying making it. I even made a few extra bags of chai tea to give to my friends and family members as gifts.

Why Decaf Chai Tea?

Caffeine is really bad for you! I’m still recovering from adrenal fatigue and it has taken years. And don’t kid yourself — all forms of caffeine are bad for your adrenals. This includes black tea, which is caffeinated (not to mention green tea).

To read more about why I quit coffee and why it’s bad for you, read this: How to Quit Coffee.

Homemade Decaf Chai Tea

Makes 6-10 cups (you can make more or less depending on how strong you like your tea)

Ingredients

Whole cardamom pods (25) — where to buy cardamon pods
Freshly ground black pepper (1/2 tsp) — where to buy black pepper
Freshly ground whole nutmeg (1/2 tsp) — where to buy nutmeg
Crystalized ginger (4 cubes) — where to buy ginger
Cinnamon stick, 2 inches (1) — where to buy cinnamon
Whole cloves (10) — where to buy cloves
Whole anise star (2)
Fennel seeds (1/2 tsp) — where to buy fennel seeds
Whole peppercorns (20)
Ground ginger powder (2 pinches)
Cayenne pepper (1/2 tsp) — where to buy cayenne pepper
Filtered water (4 cups)
Decaf black tea or roobios tea (either 4 black tea bags or 4 tsp loose leaf tea) — where to buy decaf black tea ; where to buy roobios tea
Raw whole milk from grass-fed cows, or full-fat coconut milk (to taste) — where to buy raw milk and where to buy coconut milk
Raw honey (to taste) — where to buy honey

Homemade Chai Tea

Equipment

Paper tea bags — I found these at the health food store (you can also use reusable cloth ones)
Saucepan
Quart mason jar

Directions

1. Smash the cardamom pods with the back of a knive or using a mortar and pestle.
2. Grind the pepper and grate the nutmeg.
3. Chop up the crystallized ginger.
4. Add all the spice ingredients — everything except the tea, filtered water, milk and honey — to a paper tea bag.
5. Cut a 10- to 12-inch piece of kitchen twine and use it to tie the homemade tea bag closed.
6. Fill a saucepan with 4 cups of filtered water and bring to a boil.
7. Add the homemade tea bag and the 4 decaf black tea (or roobios) bags to the saucepan.
8. Turn off the heat and let steep for 5 minutes.
9. Remove the black tea/roobios tea bags (if you leave them it will become very bitter).
10. Leave the homemade tea bag in the water and let steep for 24-36 hours — or simmer on low for 20-30 minutes.
11. When it’s done steeping, just remove the tea bag and store in the fridge.
12. When you’re ready to make a cup of tea, pour half a cup’s worth of the chai tea blend into a small saucepan. Turn the heat on medium-high and let it get nice and hot.
13. Add honey to taste; stir until blended.
14. Add the raw milk or coconut milk and stir until blended.
15. Pour into a cup or mug and enjoy.

Note: The chai tea base will keep in the fridge for about a week. I guarantee it won’t stay in there that long, though!

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Meredith November 14, 2011 at 2:05 PM

YUM!!! Thank you for posting this!!! Question – is the simmer for 20-30 minutes as good as the steep for 24-36 hours option? Just curious – would love fast chai, but am willing to wait if it is better the long way :)

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Melody November 14, 2011 at 10:59 PM

Depends…I sometimes just put the spices in a small spice bag (enough for one serving) and make a cup of chai straight from that. I’ll hang up the bag and re-use again for moments of desperation where I haven’t had the forethought to make a batch (I drink it so much, I have been known to drink entire batches before the day is over). I prefer the longer steep, since it keeps the temperature lower over a longer period of time (I’d like to think you get more health benefits out of it?)…play around with it? When I posted the recipe a few weeks ago, Ann Marie so graciously asked me questions that I just couldn’t solidly answer (like how many cups of water, haha), yet she still managed to describe EXACTLY how I make my chai, I just didn’t include all those steps when I wrote it the first time! It’s a fairly flexible recipe though. You might like more ginger (I do when I’m fighting some kind of cold) or more cardamom (very tasty in the summertime, iced), or more clove if you’re pairing it with a squash or pumpkin dish….mmm….

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Meredith November 14, 2011 at 11:04 PM

Thank you Melody!! Can’t stop thinking about chai now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

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Danielle November 14, 2011 at 2:05 PM

I read this in the comments a few weeks back and it sounded delicious. I will pick up ingredients at my health food store today. Thank you!

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Danielle November 14, 2011 at 2:07 PM

Btw I bet this would make amazing kombucha! I’ve used chai tea bags before with green tea and it’s turned out well, I can only imagine how good this will be.

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deb November 14, 2011 at 7:31 PM

I use chai to make mine and I use Trader Joes candied ginger for the sugar part.. tastes super good!

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summerharms November 14, 2011 at 2:18 PM

yum! this is exactly the post i was hoping for :) thanks so much!

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Robin November 14, 2011 at 2:28 PM

Okay, confession…I’ve always just used the teabags (either Celestial Seasonings or Tazo) but have wanted to try making it homemade for a while now. I did pull the recipe off the discussion you referenced, but THANK YOU for putting together an actual post on this, as this is a lot more clear and concise :-).

One question-I’ve made my own concentrate before using the teabags and then mix together equal parts of the concentrate with milk (1:1). Does that work the same with this recipe? (i.e. is it strong enough to mix 1:1 with milk or do you use less milk than concentrate?)

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Melody November 14, 2011 at 10:46 PM

I guess it depends on how long you steep it for…Ann Marie, what is your experience? I typically do 3 parts chai base, 1 part cream/milk base, but I’ve done 1:1 before…it just seemed to creamy for me, but I’ve been to tea houses where that’s what they’ve done (except their base was very very strong and condensed)

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Lisa C November 14, 2011 at 3:15 PM

I guess I’m buying spices tonight! I’m so excited to make some chai.

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Lauren November 14, 2011 at 4:07 PM

I’ll have to try this spice blend the next time I make coconut milk chai concentrate (my hands-down favourite meal replacement), thanks!
http://letospassion.blogspot.com/2011/04/coconut-milk-chai-marsala.html

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Homebirth Mama November 14, 2011 at 4:13 PM

Mmmmmmm, thank you SO much for this recipe! I heart chai tea. And I love recipes I can leave and come back to in a day or two. Part of why I love traditional food prep so much.

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kg6267@gmail.co November 14, 2011 at 4:27 PM

Calling it ‘chai tea’ is redundant. ‘Chai’ means tea in several languages anyway. Of course, in the west, ‘chai tea’ might be a way to clarify exactly what you are talking about, just once, perhaps in your title. After that, it is fine to just refer to it as ‘chai.’

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Anna-Marie November 15, 2011 at 10:36 AM

Thank you! I was going to post the same thing! Spiced chai would be more true to the recipe perhaps?

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Bebe November 14, 2011 at 4:28 PM

Finding organic decaf black tea is no easy feat. I know you said you get yours at Whole Foods but the nearest one to us is about 2500 miles… lol. My local health food store has none, the local grocery… none; tea and spice company… nope. I just ordered some from amazon, $17 for 4 ounces (yikes!) so if anyone comes up with a better source PLEASE post.
I normally like to patronize local businesses but do order online from a small herb business called Bulk Herb Store. Excellent service, fresh, high quality herbs and good prices. They do carry rooibos, dried ginger root (which I would recommend over the candied variety), ginger powder, cayenne and fennel, plus many more if you are looking for medicinal and culinary herbs.
Looking forward to trying this, I LOVE chai…
Oh, and one more thing, since the meaning of chai (India) is “tea”, when you say “chai tea” it’s like saying “tea tea”. It was a personal joke between some friends and my family several years ago and we still giggle… “Would you like something to drink? Yes, I’ll have some tea tea please!”

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Melody November 14, 2011 at 10:53 PM

You can naturally decaffeinate black tea (or any other caffeinated tea) yourself. Here’s how: Take the black tea (loose leaf, in a bag, whatever) and pour boiling water over it. You need to let it over-steep by about 3 minutes. For example, black tea has the longest steep time- about 3-5 minutes (depending on the directions of the package). Green tea is about 2-3 minutes, white tea is about 1-2 minutes. The tea will become bitter, which is much of the caffeine (and other stuff) coming out. Dump that first batch, and voila, you’ve got yourself decaf tea. It still has anywhere from 5-20% of the caffeine left, BUT you can just repeat the process. Fine tea drinkers do say that black tea is best on the 3rd or 4th steep time (probably because the caffeine has been sucked out of it and it has a more delicate earthy flavor). I get my black tea from an international shop nearby that specializes in Indian food, so if you’re lucky to have an international store (even a hole in the wall store should carry some), try there. Charity (if you read this), feel free to add to this. Charity owns her own tea shop up in Oregon and is in the process of growing her own teas (way to go girl!), her shop is called “Chariteas.” You might google her store (or look her up on Facebook) and see if she’ll sell you some! I know it’s organic, and she visits each of the tea plantations herself on a regular basis, and is looking at starting one locally in Oregon as well.

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Bebe November 24, 2011 at 7:28 AM

Wow, thanks Melody. I had thought about that method but since I had never actually TRIED it before I assumed there would be a loss of flavor, and I really love a robust tea.

As I said above, I did buy some already decaffeinated (co2) so I’m going to do a taste trial comparison between that and using your method and see. Doing my own decaffeination process will make it much more affordable.

Thanks again!

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Rachel J November 14, 2011 at 6:28 PM

I love Mountain Rose Herb’s Firefly Chai. It’s made with rooibos and a loose tea so lots of wonderful spicy pieces. Super yummy but I’ve been thinking of just whipping up the spice mix myself, it would probably be cheaper than purchasing the premade. Now I have a recipe to follow, thanks :)

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Chery Salisbury November 14, 2011 at 6:45 PM

Where did you find crystallized ginger? I checked Wilderness Family Naturals and they do not have it.

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Rachel J November 15, 2011 at 6:25 AM

You can find crystalized ginger in most stores, especially around the holidays. I know I’ve bought it from the bulk bins at a Whole Foods. It’s not critical though, you could put in a few slices of fresh ginger instead and just add a touch of honey if you want the sweetness of the sugar on the crystalized ginger.

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Megan Hull November 14, 2011 at 7:05 PM

I had to start making mine in a double batch because there’s no way it lasts a week! It’s so yummy!

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deb November 14, 2011 at 7:29 PM

love chai! So great to see you this weekend, thank you for letting me be a part of Real Food Media. I am ready to roll with a word press switch from blogger and use the wonderful resources you have created!
A raw milk toast to YOU!
deb

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Bonnie November 15, 2011 at 3:57 AM

Do you realize that decaf tea still has caffeine?

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cheeseslave November 15, 2011 at 6:59 AM

Yes, I prefer roobios for that reason.

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Melody November 23, 2011 at 4:43 PM

“Like” :)

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Bebe November 24, 2011 at 7:43 AM

Have you tried mixing both tea and rooibos in your chai? I’m going to try that! I have been drinking “half caf” for years but (thanks to your encouragement) am completely off caffeine except for what remains in decaf tea and coffee… and since I only drink decaf coffee a couple times a week these days and have been unable to locate decaf tea (my order just arrived on Tuesday, yeah!) I really have been doing well at keeping it out of my system.

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Jessica @ Delicious Obsessions November 15, 2011 at 6:27 AM

Oh thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you AnnMarie! I have been searching for a homemade chai recipe for months, maybe years, and I have not found one that sounds as good as this. I’m heading to the store to get my spices TODAY! :) So excited!

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Lee Deavers November 15, 2011 at 6:34 AM

Awesome! I have always wanted to make my own; can’t get enough of those spice combinations!

Thanks!

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Kim Paynter, San Antonio WAPF Chapter Leader November 15, 2011 at 9:44 AM

Howdy! I so enjoyed meeting you at the Wise Traditions conference. I do hope you continue to love camel milk.

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cheeseslave November 28, 2011 at 5:27 PM

Hi, Kim! It was nice to meet you, too!

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Bebe November 28, 2011 at 2:58 PM

Did it… made it with a half and half combination of black and rooibos. I was wondering if it would be spicy enough for me… it is. The slight burn of the cayenne at the back of my throat when swallowing is something I find very soothing.
I’ll have to double the recipe though because I drink out of a sixteen ounce beautiful pottery mug (it’s part of the pleasure) so really only two servings for me. I only used a couple tablespoons of coconut milk so most of the volume has to come from the tea base.
Thanks again Ann Marie… looking forward to energy medicine!

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cheeseslave November 28, 2011 at 5:44 PM

I am glad you enjoyed it! I love it!

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Esther December 15, 2011 at 11:35 AM

Yay, thank you! I can’t wait to try this. :) I loooove chai.

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Monique January 7, 2012 at 10:09 PM

How can I make crystallized ginger or a good substitute? I am on GAPS so can do no sugar.
Thanks.

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Gee November 26, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Awesome! I’ve been on a huge chai tea (blended up with coconut cream and stevia) kick lately, as I was craving those Starbux chai tea lattes I used to love. You are right about the tea bags, the flavour is really lacking – so much so that I’ve been dumping ginger and cinnamon powder in as well, in an attempt to jack up the flavor!

I will be trying this out asap! Thanks for sharing :)

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Jeanette March 22, 2013 at 9:04 AM

Thanks so much for this recipe. I am really enjoying it. I am going to have to mass produce it; I drink the whole batch in one day!

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Joseph D April 4, 2014 at 12:48 AM

I am happy with your tea. Is there any mistake in the item #10 of Directions? 5minutes steeping is good. Then why next step is talking about 36 hours and 30 minutes.

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Melody April 4, 2014 at 4:54 AM

That’s great to hear Joseph! There was no mistake. The 5 minutes is for the “gotta have it now moments”, when you didn’t make it overnight. The overnight version makes the flavors more concentrated, so you can refrigerate it and dilute it with a cream or heavy nut milk. I learned the overnight method from a tea house owner in Louisville, CO, when I was drinking their chai. It had flavors that played around like children in my mouth, and I couldn’t stop raving about the tea’s depth, so he leaned in and confided, “well, I have to admit, we make it in large batches and let it steep overnight into a concentrate. Most chais are made within a few minutes so the flavors are more diluted.” Changed my chai recipe forever.

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Melody April 4, 2014 at 4:57 AM

Oh yeah, one more thing- the 5 minutes is for the black tea. Then you take out the black tea (if you are using), so that it doesn’t turn the tea bitter. Mom mm…I might be making chai this morning- it’s a bit chilly here in CO.

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Joseph D April 4, 2014 at 7:43 AM

Dear Ann, I am humbled with your fastest reply. Now I realize that I didn’t read your instructions thoroughly. Sorry for the trouble. I am turning 70 next month. I hope this will help my health issue in addition to feed my taste. Let me confess few things. When I saw cheeseslave I almost skipped it. But I saw very nice colorful mix of spices picture on the same page which stimulated my interest to continue reading it. I was happy to note your paid endorsement disclosure and Amazon Disclosure. That helped me to trust your wonderful creation.
Ann, The rest of the blog is Optional posting:
Then I read your bio. I saw your family pictures. My son also finished his journalism degree from UT Arlington, Texas. When he finished his MBA there in 2000 We moved to NY. Now we are still working as Resp Therapists in upstate NY. But he bought a condo in Manhattan, NY. I am from India. If you guys are coming to NY city I like to meet you and family and sit with my family in the condo and try the modified YOUR COLORADO VERSION of My Indian Tea. My health issue is that I had a heart attack in 2007. So I am on 6 prescription medications which I think increased acidity in my stomach. I was using decaff coffee after heart attack. But I have been suffering from chest pain 2 hrs after I eat slightly heavy food for the last 2 yrs. Drs couldn’t solve this. Whenever I try walmart decaf Lipton tea I can’t stick to it because of no taste. It tastes like you said cardboard powder. I classify walmart brand Lipton teas as ‘trash tea dust’ from India. But I recently found out from my church that Lipton tea from Indian stores are better.
2 weeks ago I got a revelation to try decaff tea. Decaff tea is not available in local Indian grocery store. So I was vigorously researching on decaf tea. I visited all super markets around here. I visited lot of websites and some local specialty tea stores. I bought lot of Teas and tried. But none of them gave satisfaction for my Indian taste buds. But I tried few times my version of your version of 5′tea. I enjoyed your tea, article and the quality of both it is providing. I have to salute you for your research. Most likely I land your version.
A BIG THANK YOU AND A GREAT APPRECIATION. Please keep in touch if you come this side.

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Sally at miyDIY June 6, 2014 at 3:14 AM

Love this recipe, thank you! So much better than any chai I’ve had in Starbucks, Costa or Cafe Nero (UK). I don’t like too much heat so I leave out the cayenne and the ground pepper and it’s perfect for me. My friends agree. Well done and thanks again.

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