Friday, November 9, 2012

Spicy chai tea

Chai tea bags were always my favorite "herbal" tea, but they always had a funny perfume-y taste to me.  Since homemade everything is always better, I decided to see if I could make my own.  This is a recipe that changes with my moods, and you can adjust it to your own tastes, too.  Simply add more of the flavors you enjoy the most, and less...or none....of the flavors that you don't like at all.  But be open to small amounts of spices that might seem out of place, like black peppercorns, as they can add a nice little zing without really being identifiable.

Here is how I make it.....this week, anyways.  It may be different next week!

Today's batch had these items in it.

We like this tea so much that I make it in two gallon batches about every other week.  Today I used about 3 cups of fresh ginger, scrubbed but not peeled, and ground in the food processor until it was the texture of coarse sawdust.  Slicing as thinly as possible with a sharp knife works, too.

I added 4 pieces of cinnamon bark, each about 4 inches long, and one nutmeg, cracked with vise grips.  Also 4 whole cloves, 4 black peppercorns, 3-4 tablespoons of allspice berries.  With the lid on the pot, I brought the whole thing to a simmer and let it bubble lightly for 30 minutes.  Then I simply shut off the heat and let it sit, covered, on the stove, for about 24 hours.  This is when the flavors really develop.  Spices tend to be anti-microbial, so I don't worry about leaving it out, covered.  Remember, too, that it just simmered for a half hour so it is pretty dang sterile at this point.

Put the cover on while simmering to keep the flavors strong.

The next day, I carefully pour it into glass bottles with tight fitting lids, running it through a fine mesh tea strainer set on a funnel.  I squeeze the moisture out of the last bits of ginger before tossing the spent spices into the trash.  The bottles are then stored in the fridge.  If you are a very visual person and need to see how this is done, there is a detailed video tutorial here, and it will walk you through all the steps in real time.

To use it, I simply fill my chosen mug or canning jar about 1/4 of the way with this chai concentrate, add a few drops of stevia, and then fill the vessel the rest of the way with boiling water.  Then I taste it and adjust....more sweetener, more chai, or both.  Every batch of spices is different, so there is no standardizing this recipe.  That makes it even more interesting.

It also makes a wonderfully refreshing iced tea, and if you'd like, you can use it along with a black tea bag to intensify the flavor.

We drink kombucha flavored with chai and it is wonderful.  I put 1 part kombucha, 1 part chai, and 2 parts cold water into a glass, again with a few drops of stevia.  This chai concentrate is so antimicrobial that I only add it to my kombucha just as I'm about to drink it so that it doesn't throw off the balance of the good beasties in the 'booch.

Serve it warm with raw whole's how to do it....add some extra cream if you have it....for a quick snack on the sugar handling protocol, if you are using stevia.  If not, simply use less chai and you will get away without sweetening it.

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