Chai-Spiced Triple Citrus Tea
Chai-flavored beverages are so comforting. Something about cinnamon, ginger, and cloves just draw me in.
Those spices really speak to me and I’m tempted to chug massive quantities.
I can’t buy chai lattes when I’m out because I down them way too fast and I’d go broke, so I created a chai-flavored citrus tea at home. Full of chai spices, oranges, lemons and white tea.
It can be served this warm, like a hot apple cider that’s been mulling and simmering on the stovetop with cinnamon and spices. Or you can serve it chilled for a nice cool glass of citrusy refreshment.
In a large kettle, I combined one half-gallon of pineapple-mango juice (or try orange juice or lemonade), with one large orange and lemon, both thinly sliced. I added cinnamon sticks, ginger, whole cloves, and ground nutmeg. I brought it to a boil, then reduced the heat, tossed in 6 white teas bags, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes before straining and enjoying.
Season your brew with your favorite warming spices in the ratios you like. Massala chai, as it’s formally known, is more about an overall flavor profile of warming spices, which varies. Cinnamon (sticks or ground), ginger (freshly sliced or ground), cloves (whole or ground), ground nutmeg are musts. And if you have it, cardamom; or if you’re feeling adventurous, black or white whole peppercorns.
I used 6 cinnamon sticks, one-half inch unpeeled knob of fresh ginger, about 2 tablespoons of whole cloves, and a hearty pinch of ground nutmeg. I used whole spices because they are easy to strain or fish out and they don’t cloud the mixture as much. If you’re using ground spices, they won’t fully dissolve and you may have some cinnamon-and-ginger sediment at the bottom of your mug. There are worse problems.
I used 6 tea bags of Ginger Pear White Tea. For more chai intensity, use chai tea or rooibos. They will turn the mixture much darker, and for photos, I stuck with white tea so the floating slices of citrus would be easily visible. Add more or less tea depending on how tea-ish versus juicy you want this. White tea is pretty mellow and I find almost impossible to overdue, but with spicier or bolder teas, add to taste.
Allow the brew to simmer for as little as ten minutes, or as long as an hour, or more. Your house will smell amazing during the process; like making apple cider but with citrus. If you’re going for a long simmer, you may want to remove the tea bags after an appropriate steeping time so they don’t disintegrate. The longer the mixture simmers, the more robust and developed, yet smooth and married, the flavors become.
Before serving, strain the whole spices (or not). If desired, sweeten it with a little honey, sugar, vanilla stevia, or a favorite sweetener, to taste. The pineapple juice keeps it fairly sweet, but there is a pop of tartness from the lemon and a punch of spiciness from the chai spices that I prefer to cut that with a touch of sweeter.
Whatever you don’t drink warm and fresh can be jarred and refrigerated for up to a week. Enjoy it later either chilled or reheat it gently in the microwave.
If you’re serving it cold, make as directed and chill it in the refrigerator prior to serving. If you’re in an ultimate hurry, but don’t have time to simmer and plan to serve this cold, you can pour the juice into a pitcher, add the teabags and sliced fruit, double up on the spices, stir; wait 10 minutes and serve. It’s not as flavorful as brewing it on the stovetop but in a pinch, it works.
You could also add wine or champagne for a white wine spritzer of sorts or a chai mimosa. Wow that sounds so good to me right now and I’d add a Chambord floater.
A warm mug of this when the weather is cold and gloomy really hits the spot. It’s soothing, warming, and comforting. And it’s a nice alternative to coffee and much more exciting and flavorful than just plain ole tea.
As a bonus, it’s packed with vitamin C to keep the sickie germs at bay.
Chai-Spiced Triple Citrus Tea (vegan, gluten-free)
The warmly scented and fragrant flavors of chai – cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom – bring this citrusy, bright tea alive. Three forms of citrus are used – pineapple-mango juice, sliced oranges, and lemons. As the tea simmers on the stove like you’d simmer apple cider, it perfumes your house with a heavenly aroma but if you’re pressed for time, you can skip simmering it, and simply stir everything together and serve chilled. This versatile tea can be served warm or chilled, and feel free to customize it with your preferred spices. Consider adding Citron, wine, or champagne and making an adults-only punch with it.
- 8 cups (1/2 gallon) pineapple juice (orange juice, pineapple-orange,lemonade or favorite juice blend may be used)
- 1 large orange, sliced into thin rounds about 1/8th-inch thick
- 1 large lemon, sliced into thin rounds about 1/8th-inch thick
- 6 to 8 cinnamon sticks (or 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon)
- one-half inch knob fresh ginger (or 2 teaspoons ground ginger)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons whole cloves (or 1 teaspoon ground cloves)
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cardamom, optional
- 1 teaspoon white or black whole peppercorns, optional
- 4 to 8 tea bags of chai, rooibos, or white tea (or a favorite tea; or use loose leaf tea if you have teaballs)
- honey, stevia, sugar, or sweetener to taste, optional
- Citron, wine, champagne, Gran Marnier, optional
- Note – all spices should be added to taste, using more of the flavors you prefer and reducing or omitting those you don’t. Using whole spices are easier to remove and strain. Ground spices will not fully dissolve and there will be some spice-sediment in the bottom of your mug. Recipe can be made in two ways; both using the stovetop and without (see last paragraph)
- In a large kettle, add all the ingredients other than tea and optional honey/sweetener. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and add the tea. Allow mixture to simmer over low heat for at least 10 minutes, up to 90 minutes, stirring intermittently so fruit doesn’t stick. If simmering for a longer duration, remove the tea bags after an appropriate steeping time and so the bags don’t disintegrate. The longer mixture simmers, the more the flavors will develop and enhance, creating a more robust drink with flavors that have married.
- Prior to serving, strain or remove whole spices, tea bags, and serve warm. Optionally, sweeten to taste. Or, refrigerate tea and allow it to chill, and serve chilled. Store tea in the refrigerator in jarred container for up to 1 week, reheating gently in the microwave prior to serving if desired.
- Alternate timesaver method – If you’re in a rush, combine all ingredients in a large pitcher, stir, and allow to stand for at least 10 minutes before serving. Flavors will not develop as much using this method because the heat brings out and unlocks their full potential, but if you’re in a hurry, this is an option.
Recipe Notes and Tips:
Optionally, serve with a favorite alcohol, either as a mixed drink or as a party punch in a big punch bowl.
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Favorite recipes and ways to use citrus fruits this time of year?
Do you like chai spices or chai-flavored items?
I know it’s a love-it or leave-it flavor, with very little middle ground. I’m in the love-it camp. When I was pregnant, I developed a strong aversion to it and just the smell was overwhelming and I thought I’d be turned off for it for life, but after delivery, my fondness for it returned.
And I have a six year old little chai lover. When we pass the fancy tea shops at the mall, she wants to stop and sample a dozen varieties.