For my very first recipe, foodie to foodie, I give you...
I was a huge fan of going out for drinks at a coffee house until I figured out how to make most of the drinks I like at home. Don't get me wrong--I don't have an espresso maker so lattes and foamed milk are out. But I never used to order those as a first choice anyway. What I did used to order, I now see as a waste. Why pay four bucks for that when I could do it at home? So I order some kind of latte and I enjoy it but I'm not possessed by its deliciousness.
My favorite has always--before and since the advent of my mild lactose intolerance--always been chai. Eventually, my mom and I scoured the internet for a recipe and I don't know if we were simple or the internet was simpler (but I have my guesses), but we didn't have a ton of luck. One recipe we did find called for peppercorns. Peppercorns? That just sounded too weird to us and we continued to satisfy our cravings by the overpriced cup.
It's only been in the last two years that I've figured out how to make my own chai. I like to use whole spices. It's a pain to go to a bulk store and find them sometimes, I know. However, it's easier, to my mind, to have a stock of these rather than carefully straining out your tea through a coffee filter so you don't have a quarter inch of grit at the bottom of your cup.
That being said, if you'd like to do it that way, go nuts. Just be careful with your translations of whole spices to ground.
Chai Tea Concentrate
Please note that this is a recipe for a concentrate, not a tea. Mix the results of this concentrate half and half or 3/4 concentrate to 1/4 milk, depending on your taste.
4 cups water
5 orange pekoe tea bags (I split these between caffeinated and decaf so I don't go to bed jittering)
1/2 cup honey
4 half-size cinnamon sticks or 2 regular size
5 cardamom pods
4 allspice berries
1/2 inch ginger root, smashed
2 medium pieces star anise
1 tsp vanilla
Bring your water to a boil and then add the tea bags. Turn the heat way down and allow the bags to steep for approximately five minutes. Bring the tea back to a boil and then add the honey. This will dampen your boil so get it going again.
Add the spices and the vanilla. Cover and reduce to simmer. Let the mixture simmer for five minutes with the tea bags, then remove them so the irony tea taste doesn't overwhelm the pot. Allow the spice to continue to simmer for the next twenty minutes or so. Strain out the spices. Serve hot or cold.
*I find two things hysterical about this photo. One, that the ingredients shown are not even, in fact, the ingredients I use as the nutmeg shouldn't be in there. When I took this picture long ago, though, I was. Too bad, so sad.
Two, I told you I was a shitty photographer. Only a photographer of my epic levels of mindlessness would frame their shot beside their dirty kitchen sink. I want you to know I photoshopped that picture, badly, to clean the sink up a bit. You're welcome.