when i found out i was pregnant, i voluntarily gave up coffee to cut caffeine. and really didn't consider it a big deal. i could go without my three cups a day for a year, right? no problem.
but it wasn't so easy. the first month or so wasn't bad. sure, i craved coffee a couple mornings, but was able to make it through. and it wasn't the caffeine i missed, so much as the routine of making & drinking a steamy mug every morning. especially in the dead of winter. i also consider myself a coffee snob - life's too short for a bad cup of coffee - and couldn't find the caffeine content of the decaf version of my favorite. so i switched it up to chai. with decaffeinated black tea.
what's different about this chai concentrate from all the others out there, is that it's milk based rather than water based. for a week or two i made large batches of chai on the weekend, toting them to and from work in quart mason jars. but i needed two jars to make it through the week and was sick of carrying the jars back and forth. there's a steady supply of hot water in my office, so making the concentrate with milk was easy. and it just so happens that a quart jar of the stuff lasts me five days. perfect for work.
30 minutes, makes 4 cups of concentrate (enough for 8 cups of chai)
4 1/4 cups milk
3/4 cups plain granulated sugar or vanilla sugar
3 teaspoons whole cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon whole cardamom pods, crushed
1 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
12 black tea bags or 5 tablespoons loose black tea
- in a large saucepan, bring the milk, sugar, cloves, peppercorns, cardamom, and ginger just to a simmer. turn off the heat, cover, and let steep at least 20 minutes.
- bring the milk back to a simmer and add the tea. let steep two to five minutes, depending on how strong you like your chai.
- strain the mixture and store in the refrigerator.
- combine chai concentrate and water in equal portions to serve.