November 19, 2013

homemade chai concentrate

Between pregnancy and acid reflux that was causing me to lose my voice (no good when you're a singer and music teacher), I have spent a lot of time recently as a recovering caffeine addict. These days, a bit is not such a big deal, but a few months ago I found myself pining for chai. The spicy and sweet flavor is so comforting, but decaf chai lattes are almost impossible to find! The day I realized that homemade concentrate couldn't be too difficult to make, and that decaf black tea was my answer, my problems were solved-- at least the chai-related ones.

All you need are a few whole spices, black tea bags (decaf or regular depending on your preference), cheesecloth or a very fine mesh strainer, sweetener and a container. Considering a box of chai concentrate can run $6 in Vancouver, I would say this saves a lot of money, too! It's easy to customize, too: a little more or less sweet, more or less vanilla, orange zest for a kick... let your imagination run!

P.S. I have a pet peeve to confess. "Chai" means "tea", to to call it Chai Tea is redundant. Just a thought.

Chai Concentrate
makes enough for 5 lattes

4.5 cups water
10 bags black tea
2 cinnamon sticks
10 whole cloves
7 cardamom pods
2 whole star anise
1 inch fresh ginger, grated 
   OR 1/2 tsp ground ginger
pinch nutmeg
pinch black pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Bring water to a boil in a medium pot. Add tea and spices, cover, turn off heat and steep for 15 minutes. Pour over cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer, press liquid out of tea bags, and discard tea bags and spices. Stir in sugar, honey and vanilla until dissolved, allow to cool, and store in a jar or bottle in the refrigerator.

To make chai lattes, combine equal parts chai concentrate and milk of choice, and steam or heat on the stove or in the microwave. Enjoy!

cheers, Katie

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