When there's a chill in the air, I soothe myself with a warm cup of tea. I often indulge in strong, black tea like Earl Grey or Irish Breakfast, but there's something special about spiced Chai. Not only is it creamy and rich, but the spices that lend themselves to the complex flavor are warming and healing.
It started when I was hit with a desire to brew a batch of mead and took a quick inventory of the kitchen. My eyes were drawn to my spice rack and I spied cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, anise, and ginger. “Chai wine?” I thought. “It’s worth a try!”
Oh my gosh, y’all, am I ever glad that I gave this weird brew a whirl! It’s a new favorite for me, and I hope you enjoy it, too.
The following recipe and technique assume that you have the basic equipment and knowledge for how to brew a gallon of wine or mead. You can get a quick run-down of the basics here.
If you want a more in-depth guide, my book Artisanal Small-Batch Brewing has detailed instructions and recipes for one-gallon wines, beers, ciders, and meads.
Spiced Chai Wine
- 1 gallon of water (use filtered water or well water instead of tap water)
- 3 cups of sugar
- 1 tsp of yeast (a sweet mead yeast is nice, but even baking yeast works in a pinch!)
- 2 star anise, whole
- 1/2 palm of fresh ginger (about 60g)
- 1 tsp fresh black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 2 English Breakfast tea bags
- 2 cinnamon sticks
How to make Chai Wine:
1. Boil most of the water in a large pot. Add the chopped ginger, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and star anise. Turn the heat down to medium-low.
2. Allow it to simmer while you sanitize your gallon jug, funnel, strainer, and your airlock and bung. (Don’t know what those are? Click here.)
3. Remove the pot from heat and add the tea bags. Cover the pot and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes.
4. Remove the tea bags. Pour the sugar into the warm, spiced tea and stir to dissolve.
5. Once the pot is cool enough to handle and the liquid safe to pour, strain the tea into your sanitized carboy and top it off with the rest of the water to the neck. I put one of the cinnamon sticks back into the carboy to infuse while the yeast does its magic.
6. Add the bung and airlock to the jug.
5. When the carboy is cool (a few hours later), sprinkle in half of the packet of yeast and give it a shake. Within a day or two, you’ll notice happy fermentation. (Here’s a video of what fermentation looks like!) the jug should be bubbling happily. It should be happy to sit and bubble for a month or so.
6. When the bubbles stop and the liquid is clear, it is time to bottle your brew!
This golden-brown brew was so delicious, dry, and spiced at bottling that I did not need to add any sugar syrup. I’m sure it will age into something special, but it is pretty tasty even young as it is!
The next time that I make this brew, I will add a bit of molasses to give it a bit more body, or perhaps add some fresh pumpkin to the boil to truly make an autumnal beverage.
Oh, and I can’t wait to try it mulled!
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Tagged: black pepper, brewing, chai, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, homebrew, one gallon, recipe, recipe box, recipes, star anise, tea, wine, yeast
Hi! I'm Amber Pixie, and this is my site. Enjoy the recipes, information, posts, and please feel free to message me if you have questions!
This looks amazing! I need to get all the supplies and start making some of your fantastic recipes, this looks like a hobby that could be equal parts delicious and fun
[…] I adore this herbalist and homebrewer’s pixie spirit and fun recipes, like this recent Spiced Chai Wine. Plus she’s really thoughtful, as demonstrated in her excellent post on conscious […]
Well, fingers crossed. Started a batch this evening and hoping for a good outcome.
Yay! Is it bubbling yet?
Started a five gallon batch today and added just a bit of molasses. Hoping I didn’t overdo the ginger but looking forward to seeing how it develops!
Molasses will be a good addition, I think. Enjoy!! 😀
How long do you leave it in the bottle before trying some?
Thinking this sounds like a good project to start this weekend.
Thanks for writing, Hamish! I always taste some right when I’m bottling, but the longer you age it the smoother it becomes. This one matured well and was quite drinkable after a week or two in the bottles! For more in depth brewing guides, check out this page –
Pixie, your my new favorite!!!! I’m SUPER excited to try this wine. I may make a couple of subtle variations. Thank you for your inspirational recipes. I adore what I call “Wonkey Wines” They always give such wonderful and surprising results!
Wonkey Wines sound like a ton of fun! Thanks for your kind words, and for finding me on Instagram, too. 🙂 Cheers, Michelle!!
Can you make this with honey to make a metheglin instead of sugar? I am on a mead binge in the next few weeks as we have 10 kg of honey to use (oh the possibilities!)
Sure! I switch between sugar and honey in many of my recipes. My basic measurements for a gallon are 2-3 pounds of honey for mead, or 3-4 cups of sugar for wine.
Wow, so much honey! 😀 That sounds great!!
Looks amazing. I’m curious, have you added milk to the finished chai wine in a glass? It might taste exactly like a delicious milky chai from the tea stall’s of India?
I haven’t been so brave! I’d be afraid of the milk curdling in the alcohol, honestly. But perhaps the next time I try to make the chai wine, I’ll use Lactose Milk Sugar to try to make it creamier. Not a bad idea, Kieran, thanks for the inspiration! 🙂 https://www.brewersfriend.com/fermentables/lactose-milk-sugar/
Hi! Will there be any caffeine in the finished product, and if so could decaffinated tea work? Thanks! 🙂
Good question! I would assume that some of the caffeine would transfer. I bet decaf tea would work just fine! It should mess with the flavor at all. The tannins in the tea are still present in the decaf, tannins and the flavor are the main part we want!
Just recently bottled my first batch of a jaom and a raspberry varient jaom and decided to try a little more difficult recipe. I have a small question though, I have most everything for the chai wine except I have ground ginger instead of fresh root, and I have a small container of star anise seeds. Would these substitute properly for the recipe or should I hold off and aquire the proper ingredients?
I bet that would be delicious! You make it how you like it, that’s the basic rule! I haven’t done many ground herbs in my meads, so I’m not sure how much dried ginger to substitute for the fresh. I often just make up the recipes from what I have on hand. Have fun with it! Cheers!
Thanks. And I misread the container it’s just anise seeds. They both smell bit like licorice so it should still work
Those will definitely give a flavor that’s just like it smells. Not bad, but potent!
Did you ever try it with the molasses and how/when/how much did you add? Would you sub it for some of the sugar or add on top of what you already have? This is my first foray into making wine from things other than grapes, and I’m excited to experiment! Love you site.
Molasses is one of those ingredients to use VERY sparingly! I use just a dribble of it, barely even a teaspoon for a whole gallon. It adds color, but too much molasses makes a bitter, metallic flavor in my experience! You could compromise by using brown sugar instead of white sugar to brew it, if you want a more molasses rich flavor!
Cheers, Peggy! I hope you enjoy – I’ve never made with WITH grapes. 😀
Thanks! I was thinking of brown sugar, or maybe half brown and half white. Just got the yeast delivered today, so will try some tomorrow, and will call it Valentine Chai!
That sounds delicious! I hope it all went wonderfully!!
With the amount of sugar that is used in a recipe disk should come out very,very,very dry.
Hi! So excited for this finished project. I am a month in, added a bit of molasses ans it’s bubbling away still. It’s also not getting clear at all. Any ideas? Thank you!
Is it still a bit warm where you are? That might be why it is still fermenting. If you want to force it to stop, you can always try using potassium sorbate (https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/beyond-beer/how-to-backsweeten-mead-and-cider/) or you can just let it take its own time and see how it goes! Cheers, I hope you enjoy the wine!
I see this post has been up for a few years but was wondering if you could steer me. I’d rather have a sweet or semi-sweet concoction, can you tell me how to achieve this?
Thanks for your patience, I’m sorry I missed your comment until now! To get a sweeter wine, you can add a bit more sugar to start, but no more than 4 cups. Another way to do it is to make a dry mead and bottle it, but then use a simple syrup to add to the glasses when you serve it!
Hi. This is going to be my new lockdown hobby for sure! Your recipes seem so easy to follow. Planning on using a vanilla chai tea. Would you know how I would be able to achieve a non sweet dryer wine? Do you think using more tea bags would help?