Homemade Chai Tea...
The first time I had chai it was a magical experience, maybe that is why I am in so in love with it, it was the moment, and the tea made it better... made it stick in my memory. I was at a little Tibetan shack of a restaurant with the biggest picture of the Dalai Lama looming over me that you could possibly imagine. The rest of the place looked like someone's 1970's living room. A little old Tibetan man made me a hand poured chai tea that I have been searching to recreate for years. No such luck. It wasn't just the tea, it was the little old man, it was how he poured the milk back and forth between two canisters. It was the whole spices, the fantastic seed pods that seeped into the milk and made my tea into a superpower. Sometimes I wish I had that little man in my back pocket and he could pour me another chai whenever I needed him to (which is almost everyday... let's be honest!).
This is by no means the tea that the Dalai Lama hovered over that night in the Avenues, but it is good, and on stressful days when I need to escape, it does the trick! It is especially lovely iced (and it is a little less work) and it takes the sting out of a really hot day. Give it a try, if you happen to be a tea junkie like me, you may enjoy it.
HOMEMADE CHAI TEA
adapted from Tasty Yummies
4 1/2 cups water
8 bags black tea, or green tea, or roobios, OR 8 bags of chai tea (a little extra spice never hurt)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 vanilla beans, split in half
1 – 3-inch section of fresh ginger, cut into pieces
10 whole cloves
8 whole cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 whole star anise pods
1/2 teaspoon of whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
*to prepare honey and almond, coconut, cow milk
1 small square section of cheesecloth, approximately 6″ square (if you don’t want to mess with cheesecloth, make sure you have a good strainer you can use at the end)
Removing any tags from the tea bags, if there are any, and tie them all together. Prepare the spices, vanilla bean and orange zest by laying them in your cheesecloth, I leave my cinnamon sticks and vanilla beans out to make the little pouch of spices a bit more compact. Tie the cheesecloth pouch shut with a small piece of kitchen twine.
*If you don’t wish to use cheesecloth, you will just add all of your spices directly to the pan when the time comes and strain them out after.
Add the water to a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil over a medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and put in the tea bags, cheesecloth pouch, vanilla beans, and cinnamon sticks. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat, strain the concentrate through a sieve or just remove the tea bags, cheesecloth pouch, vanilla beans, and cinnamon sticks.
Allow the mixture to cool before pouring it into an airtight jar or container (I put my vanilla beans back in so that it can soak up a little extra vanilla). This amount fits perfectly into a 1-quart mason jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
To serve, heat 1 cup almond milk, or coconut milk, or whatever milk you are into over medium heat. Add the chai concentrate and then add 1-2 tablespoons of honey (more or less depending on how sweet you like it). Stir to combine, when it is warm and aromatic, pour into your favorite cup, go hide somewhere the kids will never find you and sip away!