By Sara Mallicoat
Fall is my favorite time of year because we get to slow down again! Summer with two boys under the age of three is exhausting – now that it gets darker earlier, they go to bed on time and I get some much-needed “me” time. Lately, I’ve been using the fireplace and snuggling with my husband for a mini date night in the comfort of our home. After working all day, caring for the kids and putting a healthy and delicious meal on the table, I like to over-achieve and treat us both with chai lattes.
A customized cup of heaven
In many parts of the world, chai is the word for tea. In India it’s a spiced milk tea. It is becoming increasingly popular around the world and is generally made with black tea, milk, spices and a sweetener. To me it provides a warming, soothing and wonderful sense of well-being sensation – a cup of heaven!
Chai drinks are easy to find in many local coffee shops, but I’m not about to splurge for a cup of something that now tastes sub-par to my own version. I also feel the coffee shops have overly sweet chai. Chai should be a little sweet to help complement the robustness of the spices, but I do not want to drink a cup of sugar. So, I resorted to making a concentrate to enjoy tea at home. This way, I control what goes in my cup. I know what flavors I like, so I go heavy on cardamom – the beauty of making my own.
Most of the ingredients are readily available at your local co-op or natural grocery store in bulk, where you are able to buy just a pinch of this and pinch of that. The beauty of chai is if you don’t have an ingredient you can omit it and it might taste different, but it will still taste delicious.
Making the chai tea concentrate is easy – you throw it in the pot, bring to boil stirring occasionally, and then give it time to steep. Simply remove it from the heat, cover it with a lid and walk away! This leaves me time to bathe my children or tuck them in bed, then come back, strain the pot and enjoy cups of chai with my husband!
This concentrate is enough for approximately 16 chai lattes, assuming you use 4 ounces of concentrate and 4 ounces of milk per latte. Buying the ingredients in bulk and organic, the concentrate costs under $12 (even less if you omit the vanilla bean). When you factor in 4 ounces of organic cow’s milk per latte, your total cost per drink is approximately $1. Plus, it makes your house smell amazing!
Sara’s Heavenly Chai Latte Concentrate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 8 cups chai concentrate
- 8 cups of milk (cow’s milk, coconut milk, almond milk or dark chocolate almond milk – my personal favorite!)
- 2 vanilla beans (optional – could substitute 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, but I love seeing the vanilla bean flecks)
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar (honey, stevia or cane sugar work as well – adjust to your tastes)
- 8 cinnamon sticks
- 6 star anise
- ½ tablespoon ginger root slices, cut and sifted
- 2 teaspoons orange peel, cut and sifted (could use fresh if you like)
- ½ teaspoon cloves, whole
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg (if you can, grate fresh nutmeg – the aroma and taste are spectacular!)
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom seeds, decorticated (or 10-12 whole cardamom pods, slightly crushed)
- ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom (optional for more of the Indian chai tea flavor)
- ½ cup Darjeeling Black Tea (loose leaf)
- With a knife, halve the vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape the seeds into saucepan. Add the vanilla pods, milk, agave nectar and spices to pan. Let the mixture get hot, almost boiling, then add the tea leaves.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, and let boil for 5 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat and let mixture steep for approximately 30 minutes.
- Strain spices and tea leaves from steeped mixture by pouring through a sieve. Let the concentrate cool. Store the concentrate in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- To serve a chai latte, combine chai concentrate and milk in a 1:1 ratio. For an extra indulgence, add a dollop of homemade cinnamon whipped cream.
How do you make your chai? I am always open to new ideas!
About the author: Sara works in Research & Development at Frontier, which means she works with many internal departments to find innovative ways of meeting customer demands. Outside of work, she enjoys turning leftovers into something new, stretching food boundaries with her family, camping and, of course, spending time with her sweet little boys!