Brewed to perfection, black tea or spiced chai tea, deliciously fragranced with cardamom, cinnamon, fresh ginger and a touch of vanilla, then creamed with your plant milk of choice. Two methods of brewing, spiced with loose leaf or plain with tea bags.
Making tea is second nature to me. I’ve been making tea for as far as I can remember. Consequently, I’ve never given much thought as to whether there was any technique to making it or that it required a recipe, but as it turns out, a nice cup of tea doesn’t brew itself up! If you want to enjoy a good cuppa, there are a few things to pay attention to, especially if you’re substituting dairy milk with plant milk, lest you end up with, what we call, ditch water tea!
Talking about ditch water tea, before we get into some good tea making, I would like to share a little anecdote about a funny experience I had once when I ordered a cup of tea at a reputable coffee shop in Montreal a few years ago. This is a bit of a longer read than my usual posts so, you might want to skip to the recipe and make yourself a cuppa while you’re here. Then, come back and read on while sipping some delicious tea! Enjoy!
The story goes back a few years ago during our early days in Montreal, and Canada for that matter. On a mid-autumn evening, we were waiting in line at the Montreal coach terminal to catch our intercity coach to Ottawa, which was due to arrive soon. At this time of the year, it was naturally rather chilly, and as we were waiting, we fancied a cup of hot drink. Just beside our gate, there was a coffee shop. So, I easefully sneaked out of the line while Kevin kept our spot. He wanted a soya latte, our usual choice for coffee, but on that day, I was thirsty for a steaming cup of soya milk black tea. I rarely buy prepared tea from outside, as I am quite meticulous about how I like my tea, but I wasn’t up for coffee on that day.
The barista, although I am not quite sure how trained he was in the trade, a lad probably in his early twenties or even younger, came to take my order—one soya latte and one black tea with soya milk. He slightly frowned at the mention of tea and asked me again to confirm. Yes, black tea with soya milk, please!
I watched him prepare the latte which he laid on the counter a few minutes later. Then, he came closer and asked about the tea again, looking quite panicked and even, quite frankly, slightly terrified. I was a little bewildered, but I soon realised that he probably had never made tea in his life! Aw, bless him! Black tea with soya milk was perhaps not a very common beverage to order around here.
Feeling rather amused, I smiled, almost chuckled, and instructed him how to make the tea—place the tea bag in the cup and fill it about three-quarters of the way with hot water. Wait a minute or so, then pour in some soya milk. But at that moment, I could see the bus curving around and coming to a halt at our gate. I amiably asked him to make haste a little. He skipped the steeping time and just poured in the soya milk. I knew this wasn’t going to be the best tea in the world, and there wasn’t even enough time now to change my order to coffee. The line was moving and Kevin was peeping his head up, nervously looking out for me.
I had some cash on me that I quickly paid with, then grabbed the two cups and joined in the line just in time. After we were seated, I glanced at my bland-looking cup of tea. Apprehensively, I took a sip, hoping for the best. Ugh blah! As expected, it was unpalatable and didn’t taste anything like tea at all. Just hot watered-down soya milk with a tea bag whose flavour was never going to properly be infused now that the milk had already been mixed in. My heart sunk realising that I was not going to have a nice cup of tea to savour on our long bus journey. Although, I was more amused than chagrined, as I related what had just happened to Kevin who actually offered to share half of his coffee with me. But I was really not up for coffee on that day.
Since that day, I’ve become really anxious about ordering milky teas again at coffee shops around here. Maybe I should try a proper tea house next time. Hopefully, they’ll serve soya milk because I do like my black tea with milk.
So now, let’s get into some proper homemade tea. At our place, we have tea every single day, several times a day. We literally grew up on tea, it’s our fuel!
We start the day with one cup at breakfast, then the customary afternoon cuppa and one after dinner for proper digestion, of course. Plus, we very often sneak in a few extra cups throughout the day. Because, well, tea makes everything better, doesn’t it?
Despite so many cups of tea in a day, I never fail to make it with care and attention. I derive as much pleasure in savouring the tea as in the process of brewing it. It’s a ritual even.
What plant milk should you use in your tea?
Growing up, dairy milk was what we creamed our black teas with. I love my tea somewhat medium creaminess. There used to be some folks at my workplace, back in the day, who would cream their teas with 6 tablespoons of full-fat milk powder!
Dairy milk powder is commonly used in many Mauritian households and this is what many people are accustomed to. But for me personally, 6 tablespoons of it is overkill! This is more like tea-flavoured heavy cream.
When I first met Kevin at work, he made me one of those said teas, although with only 3 tablespoons of powdered milk. I gagged! Truth is, I was used to defatted milk powder at home, that my mum used to buy. Hence, the kind of tea that I would enjoy was medium-light rather than the full cream ones.
Nowadays, soya milk works really well for me. If you’re moving away from dairy milk and trying to substitute with plant milk in your tea, then you will have to try a few brands/kinds of plant-based milk or homemade versions, to find a combination and consistency that you like. We all have different tastes when it comes to tea and I won’t judge you if you like yours really really, like reeeeally, creamy. It might just be a little bit more of a challenge to find a super creamy plant-based substitute, as in if you want to replace 6 tablespoons of dairy milk powder.
Some brands of soya or other plant milk may separate when mixed with hot black tea. Homemade soya milk will also tend to do this. This is caused by the acidity of the tea reacting with the proteins in the milk.
I’ve found that some brands add in stabilizers and other substances to prevent this from happening, although I’m not sure how healthy they are. If the plant milk that you are using tends to curdle in the tea, I suggest heating the milk separately before adding it in. The less difference in temperature there is between the plant milk and the brewed tea, the less likely it is that the milk will separate.
Spiced Tea or Masala Chai Tea
Back in the day when I was in Mauritius, I could easily find vanilla flavoured black tea at any grocery store. It was a favourite of mine, which I brewed with split cardamom pods, a cinnamon stick and thin slices of fresh ginger root. This results in a very aromatic tea that’s also relaxing and soothing.
For tea, I prefer to use whole spices rather than their powdered versions. Ground spices may leave a residue in the tea, which I don’t find to be very pleasant. If ground spices are all you have, make sure to use a very fine mesh strainer or fine muslin cloth to strain the tea.
Sugar and other natural sweeteners.
I’ve always enjoyed my tea with no sugar since I was a kid. I never quite liked the taste of sugar in milky tea for some reason. Coffee or hot chocolate is a different story though, I can’t have them without sugar.
While living in Canada, both Kevin and I have grown fond of maple syrup. I don’t really sweeten my tea but Kevin loves a little maple syrup in his nowadays. And to cut down on the sugar, he also adds in a few drops of stevia to make up for the sweetness.
There are many brands of stevia out there and some are not pure stevia. The one that we use is in liquid form in the Sweet Leaf brand. Our favourite flavours are English Toffee and Vanilla Creme. Among all the different brands of stevia that we’ve tried, these ones have hardly any bitter aftertaste, if you don’t overdo it.
If you’re trying to cut down on sugar in your tea, these natural zero-calorie sweeteners aren’t a bad option at all, once you’ve gradually eased yourself into getting used to the taste.
How to Make Spiced Chai Tea with Plant Milk?
The recipe uses soya milk. It will also work with store-bought oat milk and almond milk with varying results in terms of consistency and taste.
For me personally, soya milk, either store-bought or homemade, works best. Sometimes, I skip the spices or some of them. You can also try different types and brands of black tea, loose tea or tea bags. I love loose tea leaves for the intense flavour but when I am making a quick cup of tea, I often just use tea bags, like what you can see me doing in one of our What We Ate videos below, to save me from having to strain the liquid.
Method 1: for Spiced Tea in a Saucepan/Teapot
Start by adding the spices to a saucepan and fill it with about 500 ml (2 cups) of water.
I find it easy to split the cardamom pods with my fingers just by pressing and tearing it at one end towards the other. Once split, extract the seeds and drop everything, seeds and empty pod, into the pan. Add one or half a cinnamon stick. Only about 3 – 4 thin slices of ginger is needed to get a hint of ginger. I don’t add the sweetener at this stage, I prefer to add it directly into the cup as per personal preference.
Bring the water with spices to a boil, then simmer for an extra 5 – 10 minutes.
After this time, add in the tea leaves. Leave to continue boiling for 1 minute then turn off the heat.
Alternatively, you may place the tea leaves in a teapot and pour in the infused boiled water.
Add ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract, then cover and let the tea steep for 3 – 5 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea or what type of tea leaves you are using.
While the tea is steeping, place about 250 ml (1 cup) of soya milk or other plant milk in another small saucepan and heat until very warm but not boiling.
To serve, pour the tea in each cup until two thirds full. Add the warm milk to fill the rest of the cup. Sweeten to taste and serve immediately.
Method 2: for Simple Plain Tea in a Mug
This is my simple go-to method to make a plain cup of tea using tea bags.
Bring the water to a boil. Place a tea bag in each cup, then pour in the hot water until two thirds full. Let the tea steep for 3 – 5 minutes. Squeeze the tea bags slightly and remove them from the cups.
If using store-bought soya milk that is processed for tea and coffee, you may add the milk directly into the tea from cold. Else, I recommend warming the milk before adding it into the tea. Sweeten to taste and serve immediately.
We need some biscuits with our tea!
Now’s the question, what biscuits or sweet treats should you accompany your tea with? You may want to try these Soft Ginger Molasses cookies (coming soon) that you see in the photos or these homemade Garibaldi biscuits that I shared the recipe of some time ago.
For our afternoon tea, we love a slice of Banana Pie, Pear Custard Pie, Pineapple Pie, or any other sweet treats from the blog. And why not try some savoury treats too, like these Olive and Herb Scones.
Love this Spiced Chai Tea recipe? Don’t forget to pin it for later.
- 500 ml water (2 cups)
- 1 - 2 cardamom pods
- ½ - 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 - 5 thin slices fresh ginger root
- 3 teaspoons loose tea leaves, or 2 strong tea bags (you may need more or less tea leaves depending on the type of tea, strength or personal preference)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, omit if using vanilla flavoured plant milk
- 250 ml soya milk (or other plant milk of choice)
- Sugar or other sweeteners, to taste
Method 1: Spiced Tea in a Saucepan/Teapot
- Start by adding the spices to a saucepan and fill it with about 500 ml (2 cups) of water.
- Split the cardamom pods by pressing and tearing it at one end towards the other. Once split, extract the seeds and drop everything, seeds and empty pod, into the pan. Add one or half a cinnamon stick. Only about 3 - 4 thin slices of ginger is needed to get a hint of ginger.
- Bring the water with spices to a boil, then simmer for an extra 5 - 10 minutes.
- After this time, add in the tea leaves. Leave to continue boiling for 30 seconds then turn off the heat.
- Alternatively, you may place the tea leaves in a teapot and pour in the infused boiled water.
- Add ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract, then cover and let the tea steep for 3 - 5 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea or what type of tea leaves you are using.
- While the tea is steeping, place about 250 ml (1 cup) of soya milk or other plant milk in another small saucepan and heat until very warm but not boiling.
- To serve, pour the tea in each cup until two thirds full. Add the warm milk to fill the rest of the cup. Sweeten to taste and serve immediately.
Method 2: Simple Plain Tea in a Mug
- Bring the water to a boil. Place a tea bag in each cup, then pour in the hot water until two thirds full. Let the tea steep for 3 - 5 minutes. Squeeze the tea bags slightly and remove them from the cups.
- If using store-bought soya milk that is processed for tea and coffee, you may add the milk directly into the tea from cold. Else, I recommend warming the milk before adding it into the tea. Sweeten to taste and serve immediately.
Link to How to Make Spiced Chai Tea - https://veganlovlie.com/how-to-make-spiced-chai-tea
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 42 Total Fat: 2g Unsaturated Fat: 1g Sodium: 51mg Carbohydrates: 4g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 0g Protein: 3g