Monday, February 13, 2012

Homemade Chai Latte

The other day, we discovered a hole-in-the wall Asian grocery store. I love those kinds of hidden gems, in part because they stock so many things I've never even heard of, but also because we love Asian food, so buying ingredients where the "locals" (expats, in this case) buy them is always reassuring. I would have taken photos of the inside, but the aisles were so narrow and crowded, it felt too intrusive to start clicking away.
Asian grocery loot
We picked up three kinds of chili sauce (sweet, onion and regular), as well as lemongrass powder, green cardamom pods, cloves and Oolong and Pu-erh tea. Oolong tea is, based on this sample alone, not going to make the pantry cut. It tastes bland yet oddly herbal and required a considerable amount of honey and milk to make it drinkable. I've heard good things about Pu-erh tea, so I can't wait to try it.
I always stock up on green cardamom pods and cloves so I can make homemade Chai. No, it does not taste particularly similar to Starbucks Chai, but has a gazillion fewer calories, is caffeine free and is a suitable alternative in Chai emergencies.

Homemade Chai  Latte (makes 2-3 mugs)
2 Roiboos (redbush) tea bags
3 mugs of freshly brewed water
6-7 green cardamom pods (roughly crushed)
6-7 whole cloves
1/2 tsp (or a splash) of vanilla extract
2 cinnamon sticks
Milk and honey to taste
(have not tried it with black pepper, star anise or ginger juice, all of which are contained in the Starbucks version)

Directions: Boil the water while putting all ingredients and tea bags, except milk and honey, in a small saucepot. Pour boiled water into sauce pot and simmer lightly about 5-8 minutes. Turn heat down and add milk until it has a nice warm latte color. Let seep a little longer, low heat, just until the milk is warmed through and the Chai is hot. Add honey to taste (I usually add around one or two tablespoons for 3 mugs), serve with one of the cinnamon sticks in your mug.That's it! Super easy and honestly, tastes delicious. Not to mention, it costs a fraction of Starbucks or Oregon Chai.


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