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Prepare ice water: Combine room temperature water with 2-3 large ice cubes and set aside.
Heat a medium saucepan over high heat. Add water, Kashmiri chai leaves, star anise, green cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon (if using) and bring to a boil.
Once it comes to a boil, add the baking soda. It’ll fizz a little. Allow this mixture to boil over high heat for 5-6 minutes. Occasionally, use a ladle to aerate (scoop and pour back) the tea. You’ll notice the froth in the water go from pale green to a deep pink color. If not, add another 1/8 tsp of baking soda.** The water will be greatly reduced, almost evaporated.
Add the prepared ice water (discard any ice cubes). If you’d like, you can aerate several times to deepen the color. Add the milk, half & half, salt, and sweetener. Allow it to a come to a light boil, then immediately turn off the heat. Do not allow it to boil for too long as it'll start to lose some of its pink color. Taste and adjust salt and sweetener.
Strain the tea into cups and add crushed almonds and pistachios, as desired.