Friday, September 23, 2011

Chai Tea and Syrup

Fall in the Palouse means hot days and cold nights. We sit each day watching the forecast searching for signs of the first frost. We got close last week but this week our nights are back in the 50's. It's not winter cold yet but still creates a desire for hot drinks and hearty desserts. One I love to indulge in during the cold months is Chai. It's not unusual for me to put a pot on in the morning and leave it throughout the day, adding water and milk as necessary (perhaps a little more sugar).
Chai is a spicy Indian drink that has become quite popular in the United States. Nearly every coffee shop sells some variety of chai but more often than not, it's a boxed concentrate added to hot milk. It's still tasty but no match for the fresh brewed variety. If you really like the boxed variety - don't fear. I'm going to give you my Chai Syrup recipe. This syrup stores beautifully in a canning jar (waterbath 10-15 minutes). Then in the fridge for quite awhile, depending on how fast you drink it. It can easily be added to milk, hot or cold, for a quick chai drink.
The ingredients may seem pricey. I purchase my dried herbs and spices through San Francisco Herb. What I get in return is a large quantity for a lot less money than the stores. I get my ginger in the glass jars in the produce section of the grocery (double check to make sure it's nothing but ginger) or Ginger People's ginger juice (it comes in a tabasco-type bottle and it for cooking not drinking). Either product last a long time.

Chai Tea
½ cup milk plus more to taste
3-inch stick cinnamon
½ inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced or 1 teas grated ginger (found in produce section of store)
2 whole cloves
4 green cardamom pods, slightly crushed
¼ teas black peppercorns
4 teas sugar and more to taste
4 tea bags
*Note - do not use powdered ginger, amount of spices are approximate can add more or less depending on taste
In large saucepan combine 5 cups of water, milk, spices and sugar. Stir and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let set for 5-10 minutes. Add tea bags and bring to boil for a second time. Reduce heat to low and let simmer 5 minutes. Check for flavor and add more sugar and milk if needed. Can strain and serve at that time or leave on slow simmer and drink on all day, straining tea into cups - be sure not to let all the water evaporate.

Chai Syrup
8 cups water
1 cup honey or 2 cups sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
12 cardamon pods
12 whole cloves
12 peppercorns
6 tsp black leaf tea
put ingredients in pot and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add to water or milk.

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