I've got an obsession with chai tea, and when I found out that I could make my own concentrate and suit to my own tastes, I was nigh on ecstatic. It's been my go to drink any time I've found myself at a Starschmucks, but I just hated how expensive it was and how sweet and mild it always seemed. Chai shouldn't be mild, and it certainly shouldn't taste like syrup. Don't get me wrong, I love a sweet chai, but I don't want to feel like I just drank the equivalent of a pound of sugar. Gross.
What I love most about this recipe (another I found via Pinterest) is it's easy to customize to your own tastes. It does take a little work to get everything together, and the ingredients can get pricey if you don't already have most on hand already. I was lucky and only needed to buy one of the ingredients since I generally try to keep a well stocked spice cabinet (yes, I have one cabinet saved just for spices; don't judge me). And since this was my third time making this particular recipe, I've been able to really fine-tune it to my own tastes (that one ingredient I bought, anise, has been the biggest waste of my money since I absolutely loath black licorice). Feel free to play around with it if you give it a try. I tend to make mine a little spicier with only a touch of sweetness to balance it out.
Chai Tea Concentrate
Recipe by A Wooden Nest, adapted by me
4 1/2 cups water
2 stick cinnamon
1 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped (unfortunately, I had to use ground ginger; it's fine, just not as strong)
15 whole cardamom pods
1 whole star anise pods
20 whole cloves
1/2 Tbl freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
Orange zest from a medium sized orange
10 bags of black tea (I love a good English afternoon tea, but feel free to use your favorite black tea)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon vanilla
- Pull out all of the spices and tea, and set aside. Bring the water to a boil, and remove from heat. Add the spices and the tea bags, and allow the mixture to steep for 15 minutes.
- Strain the mixture into a 4-cup glass measuring cup or large bowl using a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth, discarding the spices. Add the sugar, honey and the vanilla, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the mixture into a jar and store in the refrigerator (this should keep for about 2 weeks).
- To serve, mix 2 parts concentrate with 1 part milk. Enjoy hot or cold (either heat the mixture on the stove top in a pot or place your mug with the mixture in the microwave and heat until steaming hot).