Last weekend, Mark and I dropped by our neighborhood coffee shop to pick up a pound of beans for our friend James who was coming to stay with us for the weekend. I don’t do coffee or caffeine, though we like to have coffee around the house for our house guests who do. While I was chatting with the baristas about which beans to buy, I ordered a chai latte. It was GOOD. Spicy, sweet and a little creamy from the whole milk. As we strolled home, Mark and I shared the chai while I pondered making my own chai.
After a glorious week of spring temperatures, we woke up Saturday morning to the classic Midwestern “Wintery Mix” flying out of the skies at a sideways slant. Cold, wet and slushy, Turbo and I came in from our morning walk soaked to the bone…and more than a little rattled when the nasty pit bull in our building leapt into the elevator and attacked Turbo. Again. With nerves jangling and my head still stuffy from a 2-weeks-long and counting allergy attack, a hot cuppa seemed like just the thing to shake off the cold and soothe my nerves.
I looked through Tastespotting for some ideas on what spices I would need to make chai, and I had everything I needed! I veered from the traditional Indian chai a little bit by using Mexican cinnamon, canela, which has a much more floral aroma that I thought would be nice in the tea. I also used an herbal loose roobios tea in place of black tea to avoid the caffeine. The chai concentrate does take a few minutes to make – you might think this is a lot of work for a cup of tea, but it’s far better than any of the chai mixes you find in stores. And, it’s always good to know what’s going into the food you’re eating, so I’d advocate for giving this a go before buying the mixed concentrate if you’re a chai fan.
Once you’ve got the concentrate made, fill a mug halfway with your favorite milk (almond is my go-to choice), then top it off with the chai concentrate and heat in the microwave. Wrap your hands around the warm mug and enjoy a spicy, aromatic treat, while wishing the March snows away.
What’s your favorite cuppa tea? Share your favorite leaves in the comments…
2 whole star anise
8 green cardamom pods, whole
1 tsp whole cloves
8 allspice berries
12 black peppercorns
2 T chopped fresh ginger
1 bay leaf
1 5″ stick of canela (Mexican cinnamon), or 2 sticks regular cinnamon
4 T brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 cups cold water
4 T loose roobios tea (or 8 tea bags)
- Pour 4 cups cold water into a pot. Crumble the canela and bay leaf into the pot and add the chopped ginger. Pour all the dried spices into a mortar and pestle and bash around a bit to break the spices into a very coarse grind. Dump the spices into the pot. Heat the covered spices and water over high heat and bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to low and let the spices steep for 10 minutes, then add the loose tea. Turn the burner off and leave the pot on the burner to steep for another 7 minutes. Add the vanilla and brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Strain the chai concentrate into a 1 quart glass jar.
- To serve the chai, pour a half cup of almond milk into a mug, then fill to the top with the chai concentrate, and heat the mixture in the microwave. If you like your chai a bit sweeter, stir in a bit of honey. Store the leftover chai concentrate in the fridge for up to a week.
Nutritional info: 40cal for 6oz of almond milk + 30cal for brown sugar.