My name is Anna, and I am thoroughly and irrevocably addicted to chai. Traditionally an infusion of herbs in hot milk and water, chai is actually the word for tea in Hindi and throughout much of Asia. Here in the West, what we call chai actually more closely refers to “masala chai,” which consists of black tea, some form of sweetener, milk, and herbs such as cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and pepper. You can use whole or powdered herbs, mix up the combinations/ratios, add a little sea salt, make it your own. Oh! but it is creamy, spicy, sweet, bitter, and a little salty, all at once, and it leaves me sighing and blissfully rubbing my belly.

Usually chai is simmered for a long time for a good strong brew, but it’s summer, and I like to “cook” passively as much as possible to keep the kitchen from getting too hot, else my pitta self tends to overheat. So for this summertime version, I decided to try to do it as a concentrated sun tea, which you can then mix with milk for a cool chai treat! Also, though I wouldn’t recommend anything but real dairy for hot chai, for a cold chai, nut milks or oat milk are also quite tasty. Oat milk = yum.

Sun-Brewed Summer Chai

  • 4 c. water
  • 5 black tea bags
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 t. cardamom
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. ginger
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 t. pepper
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 3 T. honey (or to taste)
  • Milk

Place all herbs and tea in a quart (4-cup) mason jar. Add water to the top. Securely put the lid on and shake it all about. Put it in a sunny spot and let it steep all day. That’s what it’s all about!

I knew my “sunny spot” would only get sun for four or six hours and we want this tea strong, so I actually started it the night before and let it steep a full 24 hours. When it’s done, strain the liquid into a bottle or jar, add honey, and once more shake it up to dissolve the honey. The amount I used above is mildly sweet, but adjust to your taste. Store in the refrigerator, and when ready to use, mix with milk or oat milk or almond milk or whatever milk you prefer, usually a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio of chai syrup to milk. Enjoy cold as a summer morning treat, and pat yourself on the back for never turning on the stove!

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