It's that time of year when I start making chai tea again. Its still not that cool here, but autumn has made its way around again. I felt it a few days ago, even through these balmy days there's just something different in the air. I made tomato soup and vegetable stock the other night because it just felt like it was time again to make a warm meal. I've been living off of salads and watermelon for long enough, and my body is already longing for the hearty meals of fall and winter. It was just about this time last year that I posted this recipe for my favorite chai tea. I got the original recipe from a tattered old Indian cookbook in my parents cookbook cupboard, but it remains in my memory, even though I have amended it over the years to suit my taste. This recipe calls for ginger (which i can't stand), so feel free to add a small piece to your tea if you like.
I ran out to the grocery store to get some salad supplies (I know I just said I was tired of salads, but a girls still got to be healthy!) and I saw these mini pumpkins. I told myself that this year I would decorate for halloween the first day of October so I could feel festive all month. Last year I barely had time to decorate the day before. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and no not just because I love pumpkin flavored everything. I am ready for pumpkins everywhere and pomegranates everyday.
I never thought of adding vanilla to this recipe, mostly because I relate vanilla chai to overly sweetened drinks from big chain coffee shops and that instant chai in a box. Don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed chai tea in a box many times in the past, but after making this recipe you will see how quick and simple it is to make a big batch right at home. And it changed my mind of adding vanilla to chai tea. Its subtle and delicious! Even though I had coffee twice already, I couldn't help but have a huge mug of this tea right away. And even though its still in the 80's outside I can't stop drinking it!
Ingredients: (makes 8 cups)
6-7 Cups of water
1 Small cinnamon stick
1 Tbsp fennel seeds
10 Cardamom pods
8 Black peppercorns
8 Whole cloves
1 Small 1 inch piece of a vanilla bean (you can also use good vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste if you can find it)
1 Cup of soy milk/almond milk (your favorite milk vegan or not)
3 Tbsp of brown sugar
Add the water to the pot, with all the spices including the vanilla bean and bring to a boil. Let it boil for about 7 minutes then pull off the heat. Add in 5 black darjeeling tea bags (or loose leaf tea) into the pot. Put the lid on and let it steep for 10 minutes. Strain liquid into a pitcher, and add in milk and sugar. I think 3 Tbsp is the perfect amount, not too sweet, but if you like you can add more or less. Try not to drink the whole pitcher unless you want to be up all night doing all kinds of weird things. I tend to drink too much caffeine and start doing 10 tasks all at once. Either way, I know you will love this! Let me know if you try it and what you think!