A steaming cup of a comforting drink that is simultaneously spicy and silken. Is there anything better?
I have always liked the taste and smell of chai spices but in all honesty oftentimes I was vaguely disappointed with what I was served under the name chai latte. There was always something lacking or something too much about the drink: too watery, too sweet, not spicy enough or too much of one spice that overwhelmed everything else. You get the idea…
I had seen recipes pass by on my Pinterest feed but never really thought about looking up how to make a chai latte from scratch before this last autumn. And I really cannot imagine why! I suppose it seemed something that would be too long or needed many exotic ingredients… I really do not understand what took me so long to start making the concentrate myself! It is ridiculously easy and all the ingredients came from my closest supermarket! And the taste!! It is just marvelous! I have found the spiciness and sweetness balance that is just right for me. My coffee-machine makes lovely milk foam to pour on top. As an added bonus, every time I make the concentrate, my whole house smells wonderful!
Chai latte recipe
Ingredients for the chai concentrate
- 8 cardamom pods
- 4-6 sticks of cinnamon
- 8 cloves
- 2 tbsps of black peppercorns
- A 5 cm / 2 inch piece of fresh ginger
- 1 L (4 1/4 cups) of water
- 3-4 tbsps of loose-leaf black tea (preferably Indian Assam or Ceylon tea)
- 3 tbsps of brown sugar or 4-5 tbsps of maple syrup
Crack the cardamom pods and break the cinnamon sticks in smaller pieces. Put the cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and peppercorns in the pot. Singe the spices at high heat for about two minutes until fragrant.
Chop the ginger in slices. Pour 1 L of water over the spices, add the ginger and turn down the heat. Let simmer for five minutes.
Turn off the heat, add the tea leaves and let steep under lid for 10 minutes.
Add the sugar or the maple syrup, stir until it’s dissolved and then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher or a bottle.
You can store the chai concentrate for up to a week in the refrigerator.
To prepare your latte:
To get a real latte with the cloud of milk you need to foam the milk (although I must admit that I find it equally good with just plain hot milk). If you are lucky you’ve got a foamer or a coffee-machine that foams the milk for you. If you don’t, no worries, it is absolutely doable to make foamed milk without all the fancy gadgets. Just use one of the ways cited below.
Once you have the milk foam just heat up 1/3 of a cup of chai concentrate and pour 2/3 of a cup of milk foam on top. I like to stir the foam lightly into the concentrate so the milk has the nice spicy flavor to it as well. You can sprinkle some ground cinnamon on top for the subtle smell at every sip and enjoy your lovely spicy drink.
Three ways to make foamed milk at home:
1. In a jar
The easiest way – you don’t need anything but a jar with a lid. Pour hot milk in a jar (filling the jar max halfway). Roll the jar in a towel so you don’t burn your hands. Shake the jar vigorously for about a minute or until the milk has become frothy.
2. In a French press coffee maker
Pour hot milk in the coffee press and pump the press up an down for multiple times (it doesn’t take more than about 10-15 sec). Be sure to hold the lid down with your other hand to avoid catastrophes. This option works really well, makes a nice firm foam and also the coffee-maker is not a gadget with just one purpose. I used this version for years with great success.
3. Use a froth wand
OK yes, a froth wand is a gadget, but honestly, it can be found quite easily in a supermarket or online and it is really small so it won’t take much place in your cupboard. Anyway you just need to put the wand in a cup with a bit of hot milk and keep it in there for as long as it takes for the foam to be firm enough for you. This is the least messy and the most precise way in my opinion.