Last month I confessed my need to simplify. One thing that was pressing me was how much money I spend on nothing. For example, meeting girlfriends for coffee. I LOVE Chai Tea. If I ordered one or two drinks a week, that's over $7. Imagine my delight when I found a recipe online for homemade concentrate. I doctored it up using my own favorite spices and substituting honey for the brown sugar to make it healthy for my belly. And now I'm sharing it with you. Let's get started, shall we?
The great thing about this recipe is that you can tailor it to fit your particular tastes. I really, really love vanilla and I also like my Chai on the sweet side. Maybe you hate the flavor of ginger; just leave it out. If you like your tea to be less sweet, back off on the honey. Make it your own!
You'll need the following ingredients:
Once again, with the vanilla--I used Trader Joe's (holiday) Vanilla & Cinnamon Black Tea. Yum!
And here's another happy thing I discovered: "True" Cinnamon. We visited a spice shop last year and tried hundreds of different spices (a fun activity with the kids, if they like food like ours do). When I tasted regular, store-bought cinnamon side by side with this organic ceylon stuff, it was like night and day. Apparently the cinnamon in the stores is not actually cinnamon but the bark of another herb that resembles cinnamon. This stuff is like cinnamon amplified. It is AWESOME.
Bring your water to a boil and throw in all those beautiful spices, juices and zest plus the honey. Let it steep for a good 20-25 minutes. If you like it to be stronger or weaker, adjust as necessary. You could put all your spices in a little mesh tea strainer, or wrap them in cheesecloth. I prefer to just dump it all in one pot.
If you're like me and did everything in one pot, you'll need to strain out the big pieces.
After steeping, don't forget to slice open your beans and scrape that sweet vanilla bean caviar out and add it to the concentrate. I also throw the pods back in to flavor the mix as it sits in my fridge. Oh my! I love vanilla!
This recipe lasts me two weeks, or one cup of Chai every morning with my Bible reading and prayer time.
To enjoy your delicious and cost-effective treat, just mix one part concentrate with one part milk or milk substitute. I prefer vanilla (surprise!) flavored almond milk.
And it makes a great gift! Bottle some up, attach a cute tag, and share with your Chai-loving friends.
Homemade Chai Tea Concentrate
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger or a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and mashed with the side of a knife
3/4 tsp cardamom seeds
3/4 tsp star anise seeds
2 vanilla beans
zest of one lime
juice of half a lime
splash of orange juice
20 tea bags, any flavor black tea (lipton, english breakfast, or your own personal favorite)
1 1/3 cups honey
Bring 9 cups of water to a boil. Add all ingredients. Stir well. Let steep for 20-25 minutes. Strain everything through a fine mesh sieve or strainer. Keeps two weeks in fridge.
To serve, mix equal parts concentrate and milk or milk substitute. Enjoy hot or iced!