Monday, October 27, 2014

Homemade Chai Concentrate

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It's that time of year. The time of year when sun streams through our living room windows, deceptively bright in contrast to the cool, crisp air outside. The coziest time of year, when you need something hot to warm you from the inside out. Something like chai. Since doing our first Whole 30 in 2013, Chris and I have been cutting out as much pre-packaged and processed food from our lives as possible. It's been a big change, but one that has resulted in better sleep, better skin, improved health, and happier attitudes. But, that doesn't mean I don't miss or crave (and occasionally give into) those favorite comfort foods that beckon from grocery store shelves. Tazo chai concentrate is one of those foods. Blame it on my days as a barista, but sometimes nothing beats a hot mug of this spicy beverage, especially on cold fall days, unfortunately the store-bought version is packed with sugar, and the kind from the tea bag just doesn't hold up, in my opinion.

As part of my full time work, I created this homemade version of chai concentrate. The amount of sweetener and spice level you add is entirely up to you, and it contains no questionable ingredients. As an added bonus, this will make your house smell incredible. Yeah, the cost of the spices may feel a little steep compared to the carton of pre-made, but they'll last you awhile. I recommend hitting up Target for cheap spices (they even have organic). Let me know if you make it, I'd love to know what you think.
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12 crushed cardamom pods 
5 cinnamon sticks 
8 black peppercorns 
10 cloves 
1 medium piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced 
1 vanilla bean, sliced down the center 
2.5 cups of water 
2 star anise 
1/2 tsp allspice 
2 tbsp coconut sugar or honey (to taste) 
1/4 tsp nutmeg 
5 black tea bags 
Small saucepan 
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Resealable glass jar Add everything but the tea bags to the sauce pan and bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low, cover, and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, shut off the heat and add the tea bags to the pot. Allow the tea to steep for 5 minutes. Strain the liquid into the glass container and allow to cool completely before covering and refrigerating. Use within seven days. 

To make hot masala chai, combine equal amounts concentrate and any type of milk in a small saucepan and heat on medium until simmering. Transfer to a mug and enjoy. For iced, combine equal parts concentrate and preferred milk over ice.
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Note: This recipe was first published here as part of my full-time work at Free People. To read more of my work, go here.


Chaucee said...

Oh man I'm ALL about the chai tea this time of year. I won't stop until summer!

Brittany PC said...

I would also recommend buying spices from a natural food store. There is a Natural Living Center in my town (Bangor, Maine) and they sell bulk spices. So much fresher and cheaper than the store-bought stuff!

Annie said...

Oh girl! I most definitely want to try this. Nothing beats chai during the cooler months. Beautiful photos & I hope Philly is treating you well!

Laura Neal said...

Ooof, another brilliant post. What beautiful photos Julie! The colour of that mug is just perfect. I've said it before but I really love the posts you've been creating on Free People. Probably one of the best business blogs there is.
Chambray & Curls /

The Girl who Loved to Write said...

Oh, I'm definitely doing this!

liz said...

do you think this would keep in the freezer to get more time out of one batch? you could freeze it in cubes and just drop one in to the hot milk on the stove!

Niki Whittle said...

I LOVE Masala Chai, I used to drink this all the time in India but I never thought to make a big batch of it and keep it in the fridge. I used to boil everything in the pan with the milk, I might try this to save making a fresh batch each time! I've also not tried it with vanilla but I'm sure it would be a great addition!

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