Spicy Tulsi Chai Concentrate
notes: If you use all tulsi here, the tea is caffeine free. If you want a bit of caffeine you can use half tulsi, half assam or darjeeling tea.
5 cups filtered water
1 ginger root roughly the size of your hand, peeled and chopped into large chunks
1 heaped tbsp green cardamom pods
3-4 whole star anise
1/2 tbsp whole cloves
1/2 tbsp whole allspice
scant tbsp whole black peppercorns
4-5 cinnamon sticks
1/3 cup dried tulsi (holy basil) or 8 tulsi tea bags
Add the water and ginger root to a pot and set it aside. Gently crush the remaining spices a bit with a mortar and pestle. They don’t need to be ground but rather bruised enough to start releasing their oils. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can do the same thing in a bowl or ziploc bag with the butt end of a kitchen knife. Once you’ve crushed the whole spices a bit, add them to the pot with the water and ginger root. Set the pot on a burner over high heat. Bring the water to a boil, then remove it from the heat. Add the dried tulsi or tulsi tea bags to the water and spices, then cover the pot with a lid. Allow the chai to steep for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, strain the chai through a sieve (I like to line mine with cheesecloth). Store the chai concentrate in a clean glass bottle in the fridge for up to two weeks. If you like ginger, you can leave a few chunks in bottle with the concentrate. Makes approximately 1 quart.
To make a cup of chai: combine the concentrate with either water or your favorite milk at a 1:1 ratio. It can be served hot or iced. If you want an extra kick, add a shot of espresso for a dirty chai.