Farm-Fresh, Simple, Effective Skin Care -- Handmade by YOU!

Day 128: Chai Recipe

I'm not much of a coffee drinker. Instead, my cupboard is filled with tea, and just about any type of tea you could imagine.

Of course I have the basic black, white, green, and orange pekoe. But if you took a peek into my pantry you'd also find chamomile, lemongrass, ginko, ginseng, pomegranate, and other even more exotic herbs.

My absolute favorite tea of all, though, is chai. Chai is a creamy, spicy, tea originally from India. The word chai means tea in this region. So, as one of my students pointed out to me, saying "chai tea" (as we Americans typically do) is really like saying "tea tea." That sounds silly. I've tried to stop.

I first fell in love with this tea about two years ago, when I bought a tub of instant chai from the grocery store. Since then, I've been consuming at least a cup (or more) of chai every day.

It's one vice I didn't want to give up. Since embarking on my self-reliance venture, I've paid more attention to not only what I'm consuming but how I'm consuming it. Bottom line -- the instant chai was fairly expensive, very unhealthy and, the way I flew through it, putting a ton of waste into a landfill.

The time had come to learn how to make my own chai rather than relying on the grocery store to provide it for me (isn't that what self-sufficiency is all about?) After learning more about the history of chai, sifting through dozens of recipes, and making up batch after batch, I finally settled on a blend I love.

My chai recipe is more Californianized and less traditional, but I don't care. To me, it's perfect. Much better even than the instant stuff I used to love. Plus, it's so much healthier, and makes the house smell wonderful.

Try this chai, but don't be afraid to tweak the recipe until you find one that suits you as much as this version suits me.

Chai Recipe
7 cups water

20 cardamom pods
25 whole cloves
20 whole peppercorns
3 cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon fennel
2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (although I usually add a touch more)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
4 teabags black tea
6 tablespoons sugar

Measure out cardamom, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, bay and fennel into a mortar or small bowl. Give the ingredients a quick pounding with a pestle (until the cardamom pods are split.) Set aside. In a saucepan, bring water to a rolling boil. Add contents of mortar, plus ginger, allspice, and nutmeg. Cover and boil for 30 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Add vanilla and almond extract. Simmer for another 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add contents of teabags and sugar. Let stand 15 minutes. Strain into a container, discarding spices. Cool and store in the refrigerator.

To use, mix 1/2 cup chai concentrate with 1/2 cup milk. Heat and serve.

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