Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Spiced Chai Concentrate

Outside the window, fluffy snowflakes drift towards the earth, and I am glad to be cozy warm in my breakfast nook. I feel lucky to have large windows lined with a hug-your-legs-in-bench and pretty stained glass for the sun to filter through, leaving rainbow patterns on the table. It is one of those days when you just feel lucky to be here, now, surrounded by such beauty. These moments are to soak in, hold onto tight and revisit as often as possible. 

Oh, I forgot to mention the chai in my hand, which is most definitely contributing to this fuzzy feeling. Maybe it is causing it- who knows. Chai seems to have that power. 

I made this version with gunpowder green tea, because my lovely mother gave me a bag for Christmas and I enjoy the antioxidant-rich boost it lends to a morning tea. For a more traditional version, you can certainly substitute black tea or rooibos (for a caffeine-free version). I also threw in a bit of  calendula (the yellow flowers) because I love the subtle floral notes against the spicy cardamon and black pepper, but again- completely optional. In general, this tea is great for optimizing digestion, fighting inflammation and balancing hormones. 

Bottoms up. I hope this brings you as many warm and fuzzies as it did me. 

Spiced Chai Concentrate
Makes 4 cups, enough for 6 drinks

4 cups water
1 stick cinnamon
2-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced 
7 crushed cardamom pods
10 whole cloves
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp. freshly-ground nutmeg
1 tsp. orange zest
1 tbs. calendula (optional)

1 tbs. raisins
1/8 tsp. salt

2 tbs. green tea (or black or rooibos)
1 tbs. honey
1 tbs. vanilla extract


Bring water through salt to a boil over high heat. Remove lid and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, add green tea, and let steep for 2-3 minutes. Strain into a quart size mason jar and stir in honey and vanilla. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 

To prepare your drink, mix concentrate with milk, unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk, either hot or cold, and sweeten with honey to taste. A greater proportion of concentrate to milk will result in a stronger drink- I like my 1:1. For a richer drink, use a dash of half-and-half or full-fat coconut milk. 

For optimal enjoyment, slip into sweatpants, cuddle up with an animal of choice and linger over each sip. 

Relax. Eat Well.