Today, after a few days in the 70s and 80s, it finally started to rain in our part of California. Meanwhile, it has been bitterly cold where my parents live in Minnesota; like, highs in the negatives cold. On cold or rainy (or snowy) days, one of my favorite things is drinking a special hot drink and curling up with a good book. Although, the little one puts a damper on that, but you know, it’s the thought I like anyway.
During both of my pregnancies I have had a serious aversion to coffee. In about the third trimester last time I discovered that it was just the smell I hated but I still loved the taste. After making this discovery, I enjoyed many an iced (decaf) coffee until our son was born. About two weeks after giving birth, I rediscovered my love for the smell of coffee and couldn’t get enough. I am definitely enjoying our new coffee bar at church but still refuse to make coffee at home because the smell permeates our entire apartment, making it a miserable half hour before it clears out. Because of this I have turned to other drinks, mainly tea. This chai latté has served as a fabulous substitute for my usual morning cup of joe and I have found myself making it many days out of each week. I can definitely see making it on a regular basis even after my smell for coffee returns.
I also love being able to make my own chai because I can decide if I want it caffeinated or not. While pregnant, I make this strictly decaf but even when I’m not, I like the idea of making it in the morning with lots of caffeine or making it as an evening drink with decaf black tea.
[This recipe was adapted from one found on allrecipes.com]
Here we go:
In a pan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
Add 4 black tea bags, 1/4 cup honey, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cinnamon stick, 5 whole cloves, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg. Simmer and let steep for 4 minutes.
I use fresh ginger a lot for cooking but whenever I make tea I find myself lazy and using the ginger spice in our cabinet that doesn’t get used for anything else. I can only imagine that the fresh minced stuff would make this taste even better!
If you’re using tea bags, I recommend pulling off the string/paper part. There’s no need to let it get into the mixture and if you try to let the string and paper hang over the side of the pan, you’re going to find out just how easily paper ignites…trust me…
Pour in 1 to 1 1/2 cups of milk and return to a boil.
This part is totally your call; it just depends on how milky you want it. I find myself adding about 1 1/4 cups of milk because I don’t like it to be too diluted. But you’re the boss of you!
Strain through a fine strainer or cheesecloth.
I don’t have any cheesecloth, but I make this recipe so much I think I need some. I have a very fine strainer which does a good enough job, but I still end up with some little bits of loose spices and tea at the bottom.
Be sure to fish out the cinnamon stick, let dry and use again next time!
A friend just taught me this recently. I honestly didn’t realize you could dry out cinnamon sticks and use them repeatedly. I feel stupid even typing this for you to read, but the thought just never occurred to me. Drying them and reusing saves you quite a bit of money. Another tip is to look for cinnamon sticks (and any other spice) in the ethnic food section of your grocery store. Cinnamon sticks in the spice aisle are about $5 or more for 5 but in the ethnic foods aisle, I found them for $1 for 3. I have also found many other helpful spices at a significantly reduced price; they tend to come in packages instead of spice containers, but that can easily be remedied by buying some spice jars or using any other small jar you might have on hand to house them.
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