I am a little bit of a tea addict. Despite having no money and constantly whinging about my finances as a poor uni student, I am still more then happy to justify spending a ridiculous amount of money on tea. From fruity tisanes to exotic greens, delicate whites, flavored rooibos and classic blacks; nearly an entire shelf in my pantry is dedicated to storing tea in neatly labelled canisters and jars.
However the new financial year recently began and my partner and I sat down and had a good hard look at our budget. Putting the obsence amount of money I spend on clothes aside (that is another story in itself), it was obvious our food bills were slightly excessive, with my tea fund an easy area to cut in order to help elevate our costs.
Chai is easily my most favorite cup of tea. Not only is it a black tea that helps wake my sleepy head but the melody of spices helps ease any adversity that I must face throughout the day.
When I was in Melbourne I bought the most incredible blend of vanilla chai tea however it has sadly come to its end. My favourite blend of chai I can get in Sydney is ok but I always find myself adding more spices to the brew to help give it a bit of a kick. A few months ago I found a liquid chai concentrate that was strong, spicy and ticked all the boxes. However the price tag is not one my partner would ever see the value in... and as much as I loved it I would have to agree.
When all hope seemed lost, last week a revelation occurred when I stumbled across a recipe for DIY chai concentrate on a fellow bloggers site. It then hit me that I COULD MAKE MY OWN chai concentrate. Mind was blown and my new chai making journey began.
I buy my spices from Middle Eastern/Indian specialty shops and buy them in bulk. I suggest you do so also as you will save SO much money. While at first buying all the spices you need to make your own chai might be a little pricy, once you stock up and have your pantry resembling a mini spice market, you will be savings oodles over the next year!
Homemade Vanilla Chai Concentrate
Adapted from Cooking ala mel
Makes 4 1/2 cups concentrate
5 cups water
10 cheap black tea bags, labels removed or 10 tsp loose leaf black tea
10-20 drops vanilla stevia (depending on taste)
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 cinnamon sticks
3 cm (1-2 inch) piece of ginger, roughly chopped
10 whole cloves
8 cardamon pods
2 whole anise stars
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1. Throw all ingredients into a medium size saucepan. Bring the mixture to the boil and then lower the heat until the liquid is softly simmering. Cover the saucepan with a lid and let simmer for 20-30min.
2. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve and into a large bowl, allowing it to cool completely.
3. Once cool, the concentrate can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
4. To serve, combine chai concentrate with milk in a ratio of about 2:1. However I like my chai strong and less milky, so feel free to play around with this ratio to find one that suits your taste :)
If you would like make hot chai tea, gently heat the mixture in a small saucepan until simmering, or simply place it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes as I do.
The concentrate also tastes amazing cold so feel free to serve it over ice for a refreshing iced chai tea.
It cold even be used to flavor baked goods...mmm...the possibilities are endless!