Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sugar and Spice and Vanilla Chai Nice

Vanilla Chai Latte: homemade vanilla chai concentrate
I love LOVE the fall season. The sun is still warm but the air is cool... the leaves are turning red, orange and yellow. It's the perfect weather to sit on the porch and sip warm, spicy chai.

I love making chai concentrate. My whole house smells like the Spice Market in Istanbul. It's not hard to do and it's considerably more economical than buying the concentrates at the grocery store. And this way you can manage you're quantities of sugar, caffeine, tea strength, etc.

This recipe was adapted from one sent to me by the lovely Dana VanVeller (who got it from her friend Jess, who got it for our friend Marcia Siggelkow, who got it from her friend Jen)...recipe origin unknown at this point, but I will keep you posted when I find it.

What you'll need to do:
Get a stock pot that will hold 5 liters of water, but don't fill it up just yet...
Toss in a blender and blend just to break them up, or use a mortar and pestle:
15 cinnamon sticks

 Then add:
(Again, blend just to break them up)
Or if you're using mortar and pestle crush each spice one at a time and put in pot as you go.

1/4 cup coriander seeds
 1/2 cup whole allspice
 1/4 cup cardamom pods (or just the seeds if that's what you can find)
 1/4 cup peppercorns
 Add 2 vanilla beans sliced lengthwise (or I use 4 left over vanilla bean pods - the guts have been scraped and used in something else)
1 tsp whole cloves (not crushed)
Add 6 inches of sliced ginger.
Add 5 liters of water.
Simmer for 2 or more hours.
Remove from heat
At this point you can add 1 cup of loose black tea (in cheese cloth or tea bags so you can take it out easily). Steep for 2-3 minutes. The longer you steep the tea the more bitter it gets.

I choose not to add tea at this point. I prefer to add a sachet of black tea when I make myself a cup of chai. That way I can choose whether or not I'd like caffeinated or decaffeinated tea.

Pour concentrate through strainer into a pitcher, or I use mason jars so I can store it in my fridge a little easier. Should be good for up to 3 weeks in a sealed jar.

There are many ways to make your cuppa chai. Here is one suggestion:
  • Fill your mug half way with the chai concentrate and warm it up (either stove top in a saucepan or in the microwave...this is when I also add my tea sachet)
  • Put about the same amount of milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, whisking the whole should froth a little. Add to your chai.
  • Add honey to sweeten if desired


  1. Oooooh boy! I will be trying this in the winter!

  2. This looks delicious and I love your idea of adding your own tea later, depending on one's mood/sleep deprivation! I am definitely going to stock up on these spices and make this soon.

    Thanks for posting blogs with your delicious recipes, Kristen. I love seeing what you're doing, how you're doing it (i love how you photograph everything - eg. all the spices displayed nicely in the pot), and that you tell us so clearly how we could do it, too.

    P.S. fabulous tea cup.

  3. Thanks Marcia!! I've been loving your family blog,too!

    I found the tea cup at an antique "barn"on the way to Bangor...such great finds there.

    Let me know how your chai turns out!