since i'm not a big coffee drinker (i.e. hate it), but still embrace a good hot "cuppa something", alternatives are always welcocme (as my three year old nephew appears to be saying now). meaning it's either down to hot chocolate or tea. a good chai tea (or chai latte, in it's creamier version) is very welcome in the colder season. especially when it combines the following traits: hot (check!), spicy (check!), sweet (check!) and nice (definitely check!). this mix here was home-made, and i'm planning to give it to my family for christmas (duh, never much of a surprise around here...). added bonus: your home will smell divine when you combine all the spices!
note: the blend recipe is not to be seen as an accurate science...! or so. so, the recipe below is (for once, really) to be seen as a rough guideline, not as accurate measurements. just throw in a bit of this and a bit of that, and if it looks and smells nice (i.e. equally balanced) then you'll be fine!
home-made chai tea blend
makes about 4 small jars (pictured above)
1 1/2 cup simple black tea (i used an loose English Breakfast one)
3 cinnamon sticks, broken apart and crushed with a mortar
1/4 cup candied ginger, finely chopped (watch out, it's a sticky business!)
4 tbsp. red pepper
3 tbsp. black pepper corns
2 tbsp. cloves
9 (or more, if you like...) star anise, roughly crushed into pieces with a mortar
3 tbsp. aniseed
3 tbsp. fennel seeds
4 tbsp. dried rose buds, roughly crushed in a mortar
4 tbsp. whole cardamom pods, roughly crushed in a mortar
3 tbsp. coriander seeds
combine the tea with all the other ingredients. make sure there are no too big chunks (especially from the cinnamon sticks), otherwise crush the tea & spice blend some more in a mortar. fill into small glass jars. decorate according to your liking. can be stored for a year or more, but still the spices will lose their intense flavor. so make sure you get freshly bought spices and i'd recommend to use the blend up within a few months (shouldn't be a problem).
makes two cups
2 tbsp. chai tea blend (see above)
2 cups hot water
2 tbsp. brown sugar (i used demarara sugar) (note: it can almost never be too much sugar for a chai tea...)
1/2 cup milk, heated and foamed
1 tea bag (the ones you use for loose tea blends) or a tea egg / sieve
pinch of cinnamon for topping, if you like
cinnamon stick & straw for decorating
heat the water in a kettle. put the tea blend in a bag or egg and let steep, in a tea pot, for 5-10 minutes (a chai tea needs to be rather strong, i find, and the flavors of the spices have to develop long enough or else it will just taste like a conventional black tea... and we don't want that). sweeten with the sugar. in the meantime, heat the milk and constantly whisk it with a wire whisk, to foam it nicely. pour the chai tea in mugs, add the milk and add some of the foam on top. decorate with a pinch of cinnamon, a cinnamon stick and, if you like it playful, with a straw. serve hot.