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in the kitchen : homemade goat’s milk chai

March 20, 2012

Earlier this month, when the weather was merely warm (50s) and the skies were gray, my body was still clutching to its winter cravings. Warm comfort food, spiced, thick and flavorful. Stews, hamburgers, mashed root vegetables. On my way to work nearly every day last week, I succumbed to those cravings and stopped by the cafe on my block to order a chai.

One thing that you learn by eating out a lot is that there are many, many things that you can buy which are sub-par, and just as many things that you could quite easily (and cheaply!) do better. I have found that chai is almost always one of those things.

Many cafes use some version of a prepackaged chai concentrate, which is a pre-blended mix of black tea and spices, heavy on the sugar and on the vanilla. Other cafes may take the trouble to brew their own, and these results are mixed—some are horribly bland and over sweetened, others are over-brewed and bitter, and while some are very nicely balanced and tasty, they are all expensive.

Luckily, chai is very easy to make at home, and cheap too. Especially if you buy your spices and tea loose and in bulk. Another great thing is that chai recipes vary in concordance with taste, which means you can’t really go wrong. If you know you like a spicier chai, add more black peppercorns or ginger. If you like a sweeter chai, toss in more honey or add vanilla bean. I like mine on the spicier side, with a strong accent of cinnamon, and the recipe below reflects that. I also love the tangy taste of goat’s milk, which, for any one who has a slight dairy intolerance, has the added benefit of being a bit easier to digest than cow’s milk. You can, of course, substitute any type of milk for the goat’s—cow’s milk, soy milk, hemp milk, etc.

Homemade Goat’s Milk Chai

1 tbsp loose black tea//tea bag

3 whole cloves

1/4 – 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns, to taste

2 tsp dried ginger chunks, more if using chopped fresh (don’t use ground!)

1/2 tsp cinnamon flakes

2 or 3 cardamom pods, crushed

3/4 c water

1/2 c goat’s milk

honey, to taste (I like 3/4 tbsp)

In a small sauce pan, combine all ingredients except milk & honey. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes. When tea is a dark color and all of the spices have infused, add the honey and stir to dissolve. Add milk to the pan and just bring to a boil, then remove from heat and pour through a strainer into your glass. Drink warm or cold over ice.

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