Thirsty Thursday: Build Your Own Chai Tea Lattes

I’m cold. I’m not complaining, I’m just stating a fact. I’m cold. The weather in the Midwest is chilly. There’s snow. There’s ice. I have been driving to the bus stop less than a quarter a mile away because I’d rather get my exercise indoors this time of year. While, I know January is the month of healthy smoothies and getting fit, I also know that a drink filled with unseasonably expensive fruit and ice is not going to warm me up. Also, January 2016 is known as National Hot Tea month. 

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My regular readers know, I’m a regular tea drinker and I make all kinds of fun drinks with it both hot and cold (like here, here, and here). However, I have never attempted making Chai Tea. I thought it was time I start.

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Anytime I have ever had a Chai Tea Latte it always tastes like it has a little too much anise or not enough cinnamon or something seems missing. To be fair, I am kind of picky with spices. So, I did some research on Chai, and found all of the possible spices that could be in a Chai Tea Latte, added one that is not typically found in Chai but I think is perfect, and made my own version of a Chai Latte that can be made easily at home.

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All of these spices could be played around with adjusted or eliminated to your tastes. The old standbys for Chai Tea are cardamom, ginger, anise (or fennel), peppercorn, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. I added vanilla powder. I thought this would be mild but highlight any sweetener you might add to the drink (I used powder rather than extract so I could let it steep with the rest of the spices and it is also cheaper than always having to buy vanilla beans every time I want to make this drink). Also, I tried to keep everything as coarsely ground or in its original state for steeping. This helps keep the straining process a  bit easier and makes it a lot easier to not have chunks of spice in your drink (yuck!)

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Also, the best part of making something like this at home is you can use your favorite caffeinated or decaffeinated tea or your favorite kind of milk (skim, whole, 2%, soy milk, almond milk) or even your favorite sweetener (sugar, agave, stevia, brown sugar) if you wanted to get really fancy.

I used 2% cow’s milk and brown sugar.

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Build Your Own Chai Tea Lattes (makes two)

2 cups water

2 inches fresh ginger room cut into circles

1 or 2 pieces star anise

1/2 tsp coarsely ground white pepper or  a few white peppercorns

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (grate a whole nutmeg with a microplane)

2 whole cloves

1 whole cinnamon stick

1 tsp vanilla powder (or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract added to the warmed milk)

1/4 tsp whole cardamom seeds

2 black tea bags

3/4 milk of your choice (I used 2% milk)

sweetener of your choice to taste (I added 2 tbsp of brown sugar)

In a sauce pan over medium heat, add water and all the spices.

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Bring to a low boil and cook for about 2 minutes. Stirring occasionally.

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Strain spice mixture into a heat save container (if concerned about spices in water, strain twice).

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Steep tea in spice mixture according to package instructions. I steeped tea for about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a heat safe container or in another sauce pan. Heat milk until just warm. This should take anywhere from 1 to 2 minutes. Pro Tip: If using vanilla extract, add vanilla extract now.

Remove tea bags from spice mixture. 

Finally, whisk together tea, milk, and sweetener.

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Pour into mugs and serve immediately.

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How will you make your Chai Tea Latte? Do you like more cinnamon? Will you leave out the vanilla? What kind of sweetener will you use? 

Grandbaby Cakes: Lazy Chai Cinnamon Rolls

Today is a VERY big day at Home Everyday. Jocelyn Delk Adams of Grandbaby Cakes has come to share an awesome Autumn recipe with us. I met Jocelyn in 1995 (OMG that is 17 years ago), when our lockers were right next door to each other in high school. We have since reconnected over blogs and baking. She is a woman of flawless taste with a keen eye for design and combining unique flavors when baking.

Ina Garten, also know as the Barefoot Contessa, is my absolute favorite television chef.  I have whimsical dreams of being invited to visit her and Jeffrey at their amazing home in the Hamptons for a dinner party with all her fabulous friends.  I even imagine we are friends some days.  Yep, my husband pretty much thinks I’m crazy.

Ina is just the quintessential home chef.  I recently watched an episode (for the 15th time I think) during my weekly Food Network DVR marathon where she used puff pastry to create sticky buns.  I thought it was such a genius idea.  Cutting down on the cumbersome yeast dough step sounded so promising considering how busy I am.  As soon as Erin, a high school friend of mine, invited me to write a feature, I figured I would experiment with a concept for quick and easy cinnamon rolls with a twist since sticky buns and cinnamon rolls are first cousins.

These cinnamon rolls are not just ordinary cinnamon rolls.  Oh no!  These are chai spiced cinnamon rolls which literally made me say “yum” out loud.  The best part was my taste testers thinking I spent the whole weekend slaving in the kitchen over these while I knew I was just a lazy bum who whipped these up in 30 minutes.  Enjoy!  I certainly did.

Lazy Chai Cinnamon Rolls
1 pack of frozen puff pastry with two sheets that has thawed out in the refrigerator for at least two hours.  Trader Joe’s has an amazing and reasonable option that is made with all butter.

2/3 cup light brown sugar
3 teaspoons of the chai spice mix (NOTE: I used my favorite chai spice from The Spice House to save time but if you would like, you can make your own! Recipe below)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons melted butter

For the chai spice mix
1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

For the icing:1/2 stick of butter at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 teaspoon chai spice
small sprinkle which ends up being 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons of milk or chai black tea if you want to amp up the chai flavor

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly flour your surface and roll out one sheet of puff pastry until about 1/4 inch thick (leave the other sheet in the refrigerator).  Brush puff pastry with melted butter, leaving 1 inch of space around the edges. Evenly sprinkle puff pastry with half of brown sugar, chai spice mix and cinnamon just over buttered area.


Tightly but gently roll the dough up. Use a little melted butter on the open edge of the roll to seal the seam.  Using a sharp knife, slice the roll into six pieces. Place each roll inside a parchment paper lined baking dish. Place the dish in the refrigerator as you repeat the above steps with the last sheet of puff pastry.  Bake the cinnamon rolls in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden (watch carefully!).


While rolls are baking, make the icing.  Beat butter until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, then add milk or tea and flavorings. Increase amount of spice, or sugar until desired consistency and flavor are reached.  Then place in the microwave for 10-20 seconds until it melts down and is pourable.  Drizzle over cinnamon rolls when they are fresh out of the oven and enjoy.  Happy Baking!