Chai aficionados would often say the only proper way to prepare a cup of chai is in a pot on the stove with tea, spices, milk, and sweetener simmered together for perfection. Many people find peace and comfort in the process of making tea. Then there are those of us who just don’t have the time or patience to babysit it on the stove. For those of you who long for those deliciously smooth flavors without the hassle, try making Instant Pot chai!
Why Make Tea Under Pressure?
Good question! The quick answer is, you can get all the benefits of the slow cooker in a fraction of the time, with less total effort. Most people are familiar with the benefits of a slow cooker, but pressure cooking is a newer craze for many people. In both devices, steeping tea will give you a smoother, more complex, and luxurious taste compared to the typical steep in boiling water.
This is where an Instant Pot will become your best friend. You get all the benefits of those perfectly infused flavors, but none of the maintenance. You can set it, go do something else, and come back later for a perfect cuppa.
How To Make Instant Pot Chai
There are several ways to make chai in the Instant Pot. You can make a concentrate, make one cup for now, or make different variations in mason jars. However, one of the best parts about this recipe is that it’s highly customizable. Like a stronger chai taste? Add more of your favorite Plum Deluxe chai blend. Don’t like to add sweetener? Leave it out.
Step 1: Choose your tea
Most recipes you’ll find online will tell you to use black tea bags and add spice ingredients like cinnamon, anise, cardamom, fennel, etc. I don’t have all of that lying around, nor do I have the desire to go buy special ingredients which I may or may not be able to find at my local grocery store. But I do have perfectly blended Plum Deluxe tea!
For this method of cooking, I personally prefer to use the chai blends with more subtle additions. The Full Moon vanilla chai tea with butternut and the Rainy Day sweet and spicy tea made in an Instant Pot both end up with a very strong clove or anise flavor (respectively) that is a little overpowering for my palate. On the other hand, the Stargazer Caramel yerba mate chai tea and the Portland Rose Chai tea with blackberry both have more delicate flavors, making them both ideal for me.
Step 2: Put it all in a bowl inside your Instant Pot
This is by far my preferred method of making a cup of chai in the Instant Pot for several reasons. First, by putting all of the ingredients in the bowl at the same time, you’re not just infusing the water, you’re also infusing the milk. With Stargazer, for instance, you’ll start with a subtle tea taste followed by an incredibly smooth and creamy caramel finish.
This can be done either in the pot directly or in a bowl sitting on the trivet inside the pot. The only thing that distinguishes which you use is whether you use dairy milk or a milk alternative. Dairy milk will separate if put directly in the pot, which is just gross. Because of that, you need to put all your ingredients in a bowl (like Pyrex) so it’s heated by steam instead of heated directly on the element.
Making chai for a crowd? Try using mason jars instead of a single bowl. This way, you can alter the amount of sweetness, milk, and strength of tea to suit each person. Just cover the jars in the same way you did the bowl and follow the same steps. Keep in mind this will greatly increase your total time since it will take longer for the pot to get to pressure and release. But you’ll end up with an equally delicious chai when it’s done.
Step 3: Start the pot and come back later
Close the lid, cook under high pressure for 4 minutes with the “keep warm” option off, and natural release set. Now walk away and come back later. Keep in mind, the more you have in the pot, the longer it will take to get to pressure and then release. So don’t be alarmed or concerned if your chai takes more than 30 minutes if you have a lot in there.
Once your Instant Pot is finished releasing, pull the bowl out, strain the tea into a cup, and enjoy! Any leftovers keep well in the fridge and can be served cold over the next couple of days as well.
Instant Pot Chai
- 1 and 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup milk or other substitute
- 2 teaspoons loose tea (more if you want a stronger taste)
- Sugar or sweetener to taste
- 1 cup water for the Instant Pot insert
Put all ingredients into an Instant Pot-safe bowl (such as a Pyrex bowl) or into mason jars. It’s easiest if this bowl has a spout so you can pour from it.
Put the 1 cup of water into the bottom of the Instant Pot insert, then place the trivet in the water. Use the trivet that came with your Instant Pot.
Cover the bowl with foil and place it on the trivet inside the Instant Pot.
Pressure cook on high pressure for 4 minutes, with “keep warm” off, and natural pressure release.
When pressure is released, remove lid, strain tea into a heat-resistant mug, and enjoy!