On Saturday after Body Pump I headed over to Barnes and Noble to buy a planner for 2014. Around late summer each year, events start to pop up in the January/February timeframe for the upcoming year. In true OCD-planner-user fashion, I want to write them down, so I’m forced to hunt down a new planner for the upcoming year. I could say I wanted a new planner because I was excited to write my first half marathon on the calendar, which is true, but I honestly do this every year. Take note kids, this is what obsessive planner-ing will do to you.
I did find an adorable little paisley planner for 2014 which means I got to spend the afternoon filling it out with birthdays and other important dates. Seriously, these are the things that make me happy. I also used this as an opportunity to get an Iced, Soy, Chai Tea Latte from the “Starbucks” inside Barnes & Noble.
Iced Soy Chai Tea Lattes are one of my favorite drinks, and before Saturday I hadn’t had one in what feels like forever. The summer between my sophomore and junior years of college, and throughout the breaks of my junior year, I worked at a local coffee shop. I was hired at the coffee shop by the owner/manager before the grand opening so for the first few weeks the other staff and I got to learn and practice grinding espresso and pulling shots, grinding coffee, using loose leaf tea, steaming and foaming milk and mixing various drinks using the flavored syrups. We had the unique opportunity to experiment with different combinations of flavors and create the original drinks that ended up on the menu. The coffee house is still up and running (now with 2 locations! :-)), it’s called Bean There Cafe so if you’re ever in the Hampton Roads area, check it out!
As a perk of working at the coffee shop, we could drink all the coffee and tea our young-adult bodies could handle. And we took full advantage of this perk. The two exceptions to the “all you can drink” rule (due to their cost) were soy milk and chai tea concentrate.
Of course, these are the two ingredients in my favorite drink – an Iced Soy Chai Tea Latte. Isn’t that the way the world works?
So that summer I did not drink my body weight in Chai Lattes, instead saving them for special occasions. And it’s probably a blessing that I didn’t – seeing as to this day I don’t drink coffee because I feel like I overdosed on it that summer.
After absolutely inhaling my drink from “Starbucks”…err the Barnes and Noble Café, I almost bought a container of Chai Tea Concentrate until I noticed 1) the price and 2) all the unnecessary ingredients on the label. I had never thought of it before, but certainly this was something I could make myself at home! Pinterest to the rescue!
I found this recipe for Chai Tea concentrate which looked pretty straightforward. And it cooks in the Crock Pot! I love any excuse to use the Crock Pot.
I made two minor changes to the recipe based on what I had in the house. First, I used ground cloves instead of whole since I keep ground cloves on hand for my Cincinnati Chili and I didn’t want to buy a whole new bottle of spices just for this one project. Also, I had to substitute ground nutmeg for the cardamom seeds. This substitution was the result of me not paying attention – as I thought I had cardamom seeds in the house. Turns out what I have is coriander seeds – which I Googled and are unfortunately not the same thing. The wise internet suggested nutmeg as an alternative and I was happy with the final product, so I guess that was another spice bottle I was saved from buying.
Because of the ground spices, the final product does sometimes leave a little bit of “grit” at the bottom of the glass, but the drink was not gritty in texture at all. Personally, it doesn’t bother me but next time around I may use cardamom seeds and whole cloves like the original recipe.
Homemade Chai Tea Concentrate
Adapted from ‘@ Home with Gina C’
Makes approximately 4 cups.
– 8 slices of peeled ginger*
– 2 cinnamon sticks
– 1 teaspoon ground cloves (see original recipe for whole cloves)
– 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
– 2 teaspoons vanilla
– ½ cup honey (I use raw, local honey)
– 4 cups water
– 6 black tea bags
*When I buy ginger, I peel the entire thing and place it in a ziplock bag in the freezer to keep it fresh. Then, it’s easy to grate or slice up for recipes.
Place all ingredients except for the tea bags in a slow cooker and cook on high for 3 hours. Add the tea bags and steep for 10 minutes.
Strain out the solids with a fine mesh sieve or colander lined with cheese cloth.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 7 to 10 days. I used mason jars with these reusable plastic lids which are my new favorite find!
To make hot tea, mix equal parts concentrate with hot water. For an Iced Tea Latte, mix one part concentrate to two parts milk (hot or cold) of your choice. You can adjust the ratio to your tastes.