Happy New Year to all my readers!
As has been the tradition for the past two years, I’m starting 2015 with a cuppa Chai.
This year’s serving of Vanilla Cardamom Chai Latte has a global twist to it.
Anyone who’s experienced over-sweetened pre-packaged ‘Chai Latte’ at a coffee shop knows where I’m going with this recipe.
It’s time to take charge…
And make your own custom homemade Chai Latte; a warm and spicy brew that’s perfect for any time of year, especially during the winter months.
I’ve used well-known Indian tea spice – cardamom (Elaichi) as the dominant flavor, along with fragrant vanilla to create a ‘Chai Latte’ recipe easily customized to your preferences.
But first, a Chai Latte 101:
Latte is a classic French beverage of espresso and steamed milk. In terms of its ingredients, the concept of Chai Latte is actually ‘just regular Chai’. The difference between Chai and a Chai Latte is the manner in which milk gets added to each one.
On the other hand, for Chai Latte, milk is heated or steamed, and frothed separately, before the pre-prepared tea mixture is added to it.
Also worth knowing – the word Chai is the Indian term for tea. So the often heard term ‘Chai Tea’ just translates to ‘Tea Tea.’
- 2 cups water
- 6-7 whole cardamom, lightly crushed to release flavor
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ of a whole nutmeg, crushed (or add ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg)
- 1 (2 inch) stick of cinnamon, broken in small pieces
- 2 teaspoon sugar or use sweetener (adjust to your taste)
- 2 teaspoons loose black tea leaves or 2 tea bags
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1 cup milk (more if desired)
- 1. Start by boiling the spices - whole cardamom, ground cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon in the water. Also stir in the sugar at this stage. Let the spices boil in the water and infuse the tea liquid for 10-12 minutes.
- 2. When the liquid has almost reduced to half its original quantity, add the loose black tea leaves or tea bags. Let the tea brew on a medium flame for 3-5 minutes.
- 3. Turn off the flame, stir in the vanilla essence and let the flavors marry for a few minutes. Then strain the tea liquid; discard the spices and tea leaves.
- 4. For best results, this liquid can be used immediately to make a fresh cup of Chai Latte. Alternately, the prepared Chai mixture can be refrigerated in an air tight container for 2-4 days, beyond which it loses most of its good flavor.
- 5. To make the Chai Latte: Heat ½ cup of milk or more if you prefer it milkier, in a tea mug. Use a ‘milk frother’ like this one I use to create foam over the hot milk.
- (Handy tip: In case you have a milk steamer on hand, like the one on your coffee machine, use it to steam and froth the milk in one step.)
- 6. Add ½ cup of the hot prepared Chai mixture to the frothed hot milk. Stir and enjoy a steaming cup of Chai Latte.
- If you don’t have any of the whole spices above, use smaller quantities of their ground (powdered) version.
- In addition to unbeatable fresh flavor, one of the greatest conveniences of a custom homemade Chai Latte is better control over the amount of milk and sugar. Adjust the quantity of both these ingredients in the above recipe to your desired levels.