I researched chai online and tried a few versions before I felt as though I hit the jackpot. Some recipes called for more spices -- nutmeg, coriander and ginger. I also read that the spices are fat soluble, the author insisting that cream is necessary to bring out all the flavors.
This is my version of a Madhur Jaffrey recipe I found online. I think the flavor is fab without the fat, though it's certainly nice and rich with it. It takes a little time, but it's a lot worth it. It keeps for a few days in the fridge, so you can have it on hand to reheat in a snap. And I discovered it's quite good cold, too!
3 cups water
1 stick cinnamon
8 cardamom pods*
8 whole cloves
1 1/3 cups milk (skim is fine) or half and half (fat-free or low-fat fine), or a combination
3 tbsp. white sugar
3 tbsp. brown sugar
6 teabags vanilla-flavored tea (I use decaf because I'm caffeine-impaired)**
Add cinnamon, cardamom and cloves to water in pan. Bring to boil, cover and turn heat to low. Simmer 10 minutes.
Add the milk and sugars and bring to a simmer again. Throw in teabags, cover and turn off heat. After 5 minutes, remove teabags and strain tea into cups or a pitcher.
*The best place I've seen to buy cardamom pods (read: best price) is World Market.
**You can use plain teabags and add a little vanilla if desired.