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It's no secret that we (Heather and I) love our coffee. We've both written about it extensively at one point or another. And we bo...

Sorry, Starbucks

By 9/29/2011

It's no secret that we (Heather and I) love our coffee. We've both written about it extensively at one point or another. And we both have our favorite places to get it. I know Heather usually hits up McDonald's because she can also get the boys something from there. I have a cornucopia of caffeine-peddling choices here in Nashville. I've been to Roast, Fido's, Portland Brew, The Frothy Monkey, Cafe Coco, Bongo Java, Wired, and there are a dozen or so more that I haven't tried. By the way, if you visit Nashville, I highly recommend any of the aforementioned places. They're great and local. For families, The Frothy Monkey is probably the best. It's on 12th South and has a really fun atmosphere and has, unsurprisingly, monkeys hanging around the shop. Anyway, there is one place that Heather and I both love. I mean, love: Starbucks. It's easy to love because they can make anything and are just so darn convenient. I have a rule, though. If I can make it at home, I don't order it when I'm out. That being the case, Starbucks recently just lost some of my business.

Now, I know chai is not coffee unless you order it dirty, but it is...was...one of my most favorite things to get from Starbucks. I always feel a little better when I order tea instead of coffee. Don't ask me why, I just do. Well, being the adventurous cook that I am, I wanted a do-over on this travesty from a little over a year ago, so I started to research. It didn't me long to find Aarti Sequeira's chai recipe, and I figured it had to be good since she's Indian and has probably had the real McCoy in her homeland.

Chai
2 cup water
1 (1-inch) piece cinnamon stick
4 green cardamom pods, smashed
4 whole cloves
1/2 star anise
2 quarter-sized coins fresh ginger
2 scant tsp black tea leaves (recommended: Taj Mahal) or black tea of choice
2 tsp honey, or more to taste
Whole milk or half-and-half

In a medium pan, bring the water, all of the spices and the ginger to a boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat and allow it to steep for 15 minutes.

Bring the mixture back to a boil, then add the tea. Turn the heat off, and allow it to steep for 3 to 5 minutes depending on how strong you like your tea. Stir in the honey and add milk to your liking. Strain it into a bowl or pitcher and serve!

Okay, let me be up front about this. I spent a fortune on spices to get ready to do this recipe, but I have them all now, so there's enough for a month straight of chai. It's a long-term investment. Also, if you peel your ginger ahead of time and freeze it, it will last in your freezer for up to three months, so you can buy a whole chunk and have more to use later. Anyway, beyond the spices, this recipe was really easy. I added three tablespoons of honey to the whole batch to sweeten it, which I thought ended up being the perfect amount, but you can always add more or less to your liking.

The payoff: Tastes just like Starbucks' chai latte, but cost a fraction of the amount you would pay there! Victory! No, it's not as convenient, but there is something so very rewarding about making it yourself and being able to do so at any hour of the day any way you want. If you're like my friend Jenn that "doesn't want her tea to taste like potpourri", this isn't the drink for you, but if you enjoy a rich, sweet, spicy, fragrant beverage, try this. You'll be glad you did. :-)


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