homemade chai concentrate

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I try to only go to Starbucks once a week.

I think of it as my weekly treat. A fancy coffee for myself, if it's only once a week it's not bad.

The problem is, I love their chai tea lattes. I could drink them everyday.

Not so helpful to the budget.

Why couldn't I make it at home? The tea bags you buy at Starbucks don't seem to do the trick and I'm not spending the money on the pre-made concentrate you can buy in the stores.

Thank you to my endless hours of browsing food sites, because you solved my problem. Make my own chai concentrate.

All it took was a few trips to store to find some hard to get ingredients, a pot of boiling water, and 20 minutes to spare.

The best part is, the total cost of ingredients, if you can find them in bulk, was less than what I was paying for 1 chai latte at Starbucks. Plus I got a ton more to make multiple batches.

So for my Sunday morning, I heated up some chai concentrate, steamed up some milk and made my own chai latte. Warm, spicy, sweet, creamy, all those things that I love. And I don't even have to get dressed or brush my hair to get it.

Homemade chai concentrate
[ from Tasty Yummies ]

Makes about 4 cups or enough to fit in a 1L mason jar.

4 1/2 cups cold, filtered water
8 bags black tea, I used Tetley orange pekoe
2 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise in half ( or 1 tablespoon of extract added at the very end)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 3-inch section of fresh ginger, cut into sections
10 whole cloves
8 black cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 whole star anise pods
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon honey (leave out if you want to make this vegan or if you don't like your concentrate sweet.)

Prepare the teabags by removing any tags and tying them all together, if necessary.

In a 6-inch square of cheesecloth, or in a handy little strainer bag I found at the natural store, arrange all of your spices, ginger, vanilla bean, and orange zest in the centre. Gather and tie together with kitchen twine.  If you are making the little pouch with cheesecloth, it might be easier to leave the cinnamon sticks out to make the pouch more compact. Alternatively, you can leave the spices out of a pouch all together, but you will have to strain it very well at the end.

Add the water and sugar to a medium saucepan. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. Once boiling, add your teabags, spice pouch, and cinnamon sticks (if you left those separate). Turn heat down to a simmer and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and remove the teabags, spice pouch, and cinnamon sticks or strain through a fine mesh sieve.  Add the honey, if using, and stir to combine. Let concentrate cool completely before pouring into jars or storage containers. Will keep for 1 week in the fridge.

To serve, mix one part chai concentrate with 1 part milk. I like mine warmed with steamy non-fat milk, you could also blend it with ice and make a frosty drink. It's all up to you.