It PAINS me to admit I have a Starbucks drink because it pains me to wait in line at Starbucks and listen to “half caff” and “macchiato” and “frappuccino,”- syrupy abominations I could stomach if the coffee weren’t so over roasted and unpalatable. Admittedly, I am what you call a coffee/coffeeshop snob. (Before you condemn me completely, I’m not alone in thinking their drinks are obnoxious.) I have principles and rules, and no matter how much I like it, I just can’t bring myself to revel in Starbuck’s stronghold on Tazo Chai unless I am:
- At an airport
- At a rest stop
I am neither of those right now.
But I am resourceful! My final nudge to satisfy my chai cravings with a homemade solution came after styling the “Big Batch” article for TABLE Magazine. The article, by Jessica Server, also featured recipes for making a big batch of soup and a pancake mix. High yield recipes not only simplify weeknight menu planning, but these consolidated efforts lend themselves to my passion- entertaining.
Stretching out these more intensive kitchen efforts yields more gatherings with less stress. Without having to start from scratch for each party, there’s more time to focus on other obsessive details without devolving into Mr. Hyde before guests arrive.
Homemade chai concentrate not only saves me from Starbucks, but this recipe offers more opportunities to welcome friends into my home. If a big batch of chai doesn’t inspire you to host a variety of gatherings, keep reading. I’ve thought about this for you.
Invite a friend over for some quality one-on-one time. Serve a pot of chai and delicacies from your favorite French bakery, or bake this apricot breakfast pastry. Make an even bigger pot of chai and warm a whole table of brunch guests with all the comforting spices. After dark, offer guests a chance to concoct their own gingerbread inspired cocktail with my favorite Snap liquor. For an even fuller bar, offer spiced rum and whiskey options too.
If I seem a tad obsessive about these “Big Batch” ideas, it’s partially because I am obsessive and partially because I spoke about them in front of a live audience! For a few more of my ideas on Big Batch entertaining and styling, check out this video from my spot on Pittsburgh Today Live with TABLE Magazine:
Chai Tea Concentrate for Lattes & Cocktails
Recipe adapted from the graphic food memoir Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
3 bags of black tea (caffeinate or decaf- I used Irish Breakfast Tea)
3 cups filtered water
3 whole cardamom pods
~1-inch chunk of ginger, peeled and grated (or more to taste)
1 star anise
1 whole vanilla bean (or 1 cap full of pure extract)
6-8 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
Pure maple syrup to taste
Organic whole milk or milk substitute
Art in the Age Snap Liquor
Place 3 cups of water in a small pot on the stove on high. Add tea bags or a diffuser of black tea and heat to a low boil.
Meanwhile, crush cardamom pods with the side of a knife.
Add crushed cardamom, star anise, grated ginger, vanilla bean, cloves, and cinnamon stick to the pot and stir. Continue to stir while it simmers, until it has a soupy consistency (about 5-10 minutes).
Remove from heat and let cool for a bit, then strain it into a lidded glass container. Cap and refrigerate tea mixture for later use (lasts a few weeks), or freeze it for longer.
Note: You can reuse the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean, but discard the rest of the strained ingredients.
Chai Tea Latte
1 part chai concentrate : 1 part milk
Combine 1 part chai concentrate with 1 part milk (or milk substitute) in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a low boil. Remove from heat, pour into mugs and serve. Sweeten with pure maple syrup to taste.
Chai & Snap Cocktail
1 part chai : 1 part milk : 1/2 part Snap (or more, to taste)
Stir together, and pour over ice.
Alternately, heat chai concentrate & milk, pour into a mug, then add Snap.