While I love love love the smell of coffee brewing in the morning and that first soul-warming sip, for me the aftermath is never worth it. I get riddled with headaches and overall feel sluggish though out my day and week, which never feels worth it.
When I quit coffee recently it was night and day how much better I felt. That doesn’t mean I don’t crave a little hot cup of goodness from time to time, especially in the heart of winter, so I started reaching for chai teas instead. While there’s still a little caffeine in them, for whatever reason it feels less addicting and never comes with a side of afternoon slump.
Here’s the thing, almost everywhere I’ve ordered a chai, they seem to make it differently. Some are way too sweet while others are just blah without enough spicy kick. I managed to find a spot that made it just the way I liked it but $5 a pop later I decided to try my own at home.
Leave it to Gwyneth Paltrow to nail it in her cook book It’s All Easy. I was flipping through the book while picking out a recipe for dinner and stumbled upon it and couldn’t wait to try it. I got all the ingredients I needed at the store and gave it a whirl. The first time I made it, I’ll admit, it took longer than standing in line at my local roasters, but I didn’t have to leave my house (or take off my slippers) and it tasted comparable to what I was paying for. The second time I made it I doubled the spices (so I’d have them ready to go for the next time) and used some remaining homemade almond milk and W-O-W hands down the best chai I’ve ever tasted.
While I don’t make chai teas everyday, every so often they cure that craving for a warm cozy cup on Mondays and gloomy days. I highly recommend trying this recipe that I edited a bit from Gwyneth’s.
2 cinnamon sticks
10 cardamom pods
10 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 (1-2 inch) piece fresh ginger peeled and sliced into smaller pieces and smashed
1 1/2 cups hot water
2 English breakfast tea bags
1 1/2 cups homemade almond milk
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Put all your spices together in a mortar and pound with a pestle. If you don’t have either of those (like me the first time I made this recipe), use the back of a measuring cup and a bowl—just don’t pound too hard! Stop before the spices become a powder, you just want them crunched. Add the spices, ginger and hot water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the tea bags and homemade almond milk and simmer for 15 minutes. Make sure it’s a simmer, my burner is strong and I had it too high the first time, which made only 1 thick cup. Stir in the maple syrup, strain into mugs and enjoy!