Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Homemade Chai

Chai tea made it on the trend scene a few years back with Starbucks bringing out a Chai Tea Latte.  I have to admit I loved that $5 cup of tea until they reformulated it.  Now it is sweeter and almost thicker and cost over $5 if you want it with soy milk.......as much as I don't approve of soy as a beverage, cow milk gives me a stomach ache so it is my only Starbucks option.  Considering I buy about 2 of them a year, almost always while we are at a hospital doctors appointment, I don't worry too much about the soy and its pseudo estrogen but I don't recommend it for daily drinking.

But I digress......since the reformulation I miss the old spicey one and I am not a fan of the premade tea bags you can buy.  I find them flat and not very flavourful.  So not only do I have the gift of an amazing friend (xoxJeanette) but she came back from India with the amazing gift of a home made Chai recipe.  Chai is made in the streets in India and you can buy it cheaply from carts.  Jeanette said it is very sugar sweet in India but they love their spices so it also packs a punch.  I use this recipe all the time and have stained many a pot simmering Chai on the stove for days.  This smells wonderful and there is a bit of Christmas in the smell which is why I am reminded to make some.

Chai Tea

2 regular tea bags
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
3 slices of fresh ginger
10-12 cloves
6-8 all spice balls
5-6 cardamon pods
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

*There are numerous health benefits to some of these spices

Add all the ingredients to a pot of about 10 cups of water.  Let it all simmer on the stove for about 15-20 minutes.  Then serve with a teaspoon of honey and a little milk or cream.  The longer you let it simmer the spicier it will be.  I make smaller pots without the tea bags or with a caffeine free tea for the kids.  They like a little more honey and milk than I do but even all dressed up it still has less sugar than a cup of hot chocolate. So it is a great cold weather warm up.  And because it is full of so many of the spices that go in those delicious Christmas cookies it is a great pairing.

**Strange cooking tip - keep fresh ginger in a zip lock bag in the freezer.  Not only will it last and not dry out but you can cut pieces off as needed and it makes it super easy to grate into recipes that call for 'minced' ginger

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