I'm a sucker for Chai tea. My problem is that I don't like to pay for it. If I'm going to spend $5 on a drink at a coffee shop, I have to choose something with espresso, because I can make chai tea at home. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about espresso.
There are several ways to make your own chai, and people can get a little snobby about their methods and preferences. Some are simple, satisfied with tea bags from the grocery store. There are connoisseurs who keep a slew of spices around and mix it up fresh each time. Then there's boxed chai. I used to really like the boxed chai because of its ease. No boiling or waiting, just mix and go. What I didn't like about the boxed stuff is that I always felt guilty drinking it because it contains an enormous amount of sugar. I try not to overdo the sugar.
Once again a Pinterest user has come to the rescue with a liquid concentrate that is easy to make and tastes damn good. It's sure to please even the snobbiest chai drinker. You have full control over the sugar and spices and can drink it hot or cold. Oh, I love how Pinterest always comes to the rescue... It knows when I have a problem even before I do! I like to buy my spices at Chakra 4. If you haven't yet discovered this place, please be sure to visit. They take care to offer only the highest quality, organic products. I love this about them, but it also means higher prices. I can't always afford to buy everything from here because you can only buy by the ounce. This is inconvenient when you only need a tiny bit. Buy what you can from here and get the rest at Sprouts. You can buy in any increment and it's super cheap.
Once you round up all of the ingredients, the drink comes together in no time. It makes enough to share if you're so inclined. I found the small glass bottles at Chakra 4 for about $5 each and bought two. One for me, and one as a gift for my chai-loving friend.
If you come across a Pinterest recipe you want to see tested, please let me know! Read on for the recipe.
Spiced Chai Concentrate adapted from A Wooden Nest
I followed A Wooden Nest's ingredient list exactly, but modified the directions. A Wooden Nest says to bring the water to boiling, then add the ingredients and leave to steep. I boiled my ingredients for about 5 minutes and left them to soak about 20.
4 1/2 cups water 1 stick cinnamon 1 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped 7 whole cardamom pods 2 whole star anise pods 10 whole cloves 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg 1 teaspoon orange zest 10 bags of black tea* 1/2 cup brown sugar 1 tablespoon honey 1 tablespoon vanilla
Prepare the spices and tea and set aside. Bring the water to a boil, and remove from heat. Add the spices and the tea bags, and allow the mixture to steep for 15 minutes.
Strain the mixture into a 4-cup measuring cup or bowl, discarding the spices. Add the sugar, honey and vanilla and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the mixture into a jar and store in the refrigerator.
To serve, mix 1 part concentrate with 1 part milk of choice. Heat for a warm beverage, or pur over ice.
*I used 10 teaspoons of "China Black" tea from Chakra 4.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.