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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
Bring to a low boil and cook for about 2 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
Strain spice mixture into a heat save container (if concerned about spices in water, strain twice).
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.
Pour into mugs and serve immediately.
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?