Monday, October 22, 2012

chai concentrate

Yellow trees. Brown trees. Bare trees. Rainy days and rain boots. Wet, muddy ground. Crunching leaves from the neighbour's maple tree. Cups and cups of tea; herbal when you start feeling jittery. Knit tops and boots, scarves and woollen socks. Blankets and books. Fire burning in the fireplace. A few red apples still in the tree; many fallen on the ground. Apples, in pies and crisps and crumbles. Bared emotions. Hot chocolate and walks in the woods. Silence.

The crisp, cold mornings call for wrapping the biggest scarf you can find around yourself. Shoving your hands deep into the pockets when you realize you forgot your mittens. Woollen socks are becoming a necessity. A pot of soup is cooking on the stove at least once a week. Reading books while wrapped in a blanket is starting to sound like the perfect evening pastime. Stillness is starting to settle into the hearts; the stillness of the winter closing in.

This is what October looks like right now.

While late autumn and winter are not my favourite (I much prefer summer and early autumn), I still love to make the most of every season. Which, to me, means pulling on my orange rain boots and going for a walk in the muddy woods. It means making a big pot of soup to warm up the evenings. It means putting on a pair of woollen socks and wearing layers when going outside. It means curling up in a chair and reading a book.

And it means indulging in chai lattes to endure those rainy days. Lattes, in general, are a favourite of mine. With the warming spices and creaminess, chai lattes are made for crisp or rainy autumn days. On those days when something extra is needed, add a shot of espresso to make a dirty chai latte. Dirty chai latte is the perfect combination, in my opinion, of spices, tea and coffee, mixed together into creamy goodness.

Chai Concentrate
adapted from a wooden nest
makes about 4 cups

4 1/2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
1 (1.5-inch) piece ginger
1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
2 star anise pods
10 whole cloves
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
11 bags of black tea

scant 1/2 cup brown sugar *
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Measure and prepare the spices and tea bags. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan; add the spices and tea. Turn off the heat and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain the mixture into a 4-cup measuring bowl or cup. Whisk in the brown sugar, honey, and vanilla extract; stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour into a bottle or a jar, and store in the refrigerator.

To make chai lattes, use 1 part concentrate and 1 part milk. Heat up or pour over ice to make an iced chai latte.

* While this makes a sweet chai latte, I don't like my chai lattes overly sweet and found this was the perfect amount of sugar for me. If you like yours sweet, add more brown sugar.

Dirty Chai Latte
makes 1 serving

1/2 cup chai spice concentrate
1/2 cup milk
a shot of espresso (or 1/4 cup strong coffee)

Combine the chai concentrate and milk; heat until warm. Make the espresso (or coffee) and pour it into the chai latte. Enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. This looks awesome! Much better than the expensive chai concentrate that you buy at the store.

    And I love your photos... I'm a sucker for neutrals :)