15 November 2011

Happy Autumn!

This is the best time of year to live in Oklahoma. The mornings and evenings are crisp, just a slight chill to the air. The afternoons are arm enough to shed the light jacket you may have donned upon your departure in the morning. The leaves that haven't made their way to the ground just yet are bursting out in gorgeous hues of red and orange and gold. Some evenings, you may even be lucky enough to catch the lingering scent of someones fireplace, roaring with fire inside their home. It's the perfect time of year to sit out on your front porch with a mug of hot chai tea and chat with an elderly neighbor on a Saturday morning. Or you can have an iced chai after spending the afternoon raking leaves and watching little kids jump into the piles, scattering those reds and golds to the wind.

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
  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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).


Megs said...

Looks delish! I'll have to try this over break. Glad to see you're back in the blogging world and I'm super excited to finally get a peek at that adorable baby! Welcome back!

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