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Farmhouse Chai Tea

I love tea, any type of tea.  (Besides peppermint.  Not a fan.  Or anything licorice-like.)  So I guess I should say I love most teas.

But there is a certain type I crave every year when the air turns frosty -- chai.  It's my go-to hot beverage in the fall.

Chai is a spicy, sweet, milky tea originally from India.  The word chai means tea in this region.  So, by habit when I say "chai tea" what I'm really saying is "tea tea."  That sounds silly.  But I still added the word tea to the title of this post, because old habits die hard.  

If you've never had chai, you've got to try it.  It's delicious!  And, if you've only bought it buy the cup from expensive coffee houses, you've got to make it!  

I've tried many, many chai recipes.  Some tasted bland to me; others were super complicated and used too many specialty spices.

So, over the years, I've slowly developed my own recipe that suits me perfectly.  It uses spices that I always have on hand and is so simple to make.  I leave out the anise seeds (because they taste like licorice) and add more ginger and clove.  I know it's far from "traditional" and I'm OK with that.  I like it.

It's especially good during cold and flu season, because the spices are naturally warming and antiviral.  My kids always ask me to make it when they're feeling under the weather.

As it simmers it fills the house with amazing spicy fragrance.  It just smells like fall.

Feel free to substitute spices, or simply leave out the ones you don't care for.  It's spicy, so if you like your tea more mellow, you can half the amount of each spice and see how that suits you.

Don't be afraid to experiment with it.  You won't mess it up -- I promise.

Farmhouse Chai 

8 cups water
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cardamom or 20 cardamom pods, crushed slightly
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. clove
1/2 tsp. alspice
2 bay leaves
dash or two of cayenne pepper
8 black tea bags
sugar and milk to taste

Add the water and all the spices into a saucepan (don't add the tea, milk or sugar just yet).  Stir to incorporate.  Cover and gently simmer over low heat for at least 1 hour.  I've been known to simmer this for 3 hours or more for a stronger tea.  During the last 20 minutes, add the tea bags.  Remove from heat.

Remove the tea bags and strain the tea to remove the extra spices, peppercorns, etc.  You'll have a lot of this tea base, more than you can drink at once (unless you have a huge group of chai lovers at your house).  I keep my chai base in a large mason jar in the fridge, to warm whenever I get the urge.

To prepare a cup, heat thoroughly.  Add milk and sugar to taste.  Mmmm, yummy!

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