Saturday, February 13, 2010

Vanilla Chai--A Comforting Cup and "Simple Saturday Sipper"

When the weather is cool, the wind blows and the rain comes down I crave chai tea. (Actually I crave chai tea pretty much all year round but that's when I crave it hot). The last couple of days have been my favorite kind of winter light-blanket weather (this is still Hawaii you know!) and perfect for a cup of chai. There is something about the blend of exotic spices that is warm, comforting and incredibly good.

I decided to alter my normal chai tea base recipe a bit and add one of the gorgeous vanilla beans I received to sample from Marx Foods. (I used a Madagascar bean this time). To make it dairy-free and give it an extra punch of vanilla, I mixed the chai base with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and added a bit of vanilla extract. The result--a warming and delicious cup of Vanilla Chai and a comforting "Simple Saturday Sipper."

Vanilla Chai
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 4 Cups of Chai Tea Base)

Chai Tea Base:
4 cups water
1-2 star anise
1 tsp fennel seed
6 green cardamom pods, slightly crushed
12 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
12 peppercorns (I used white)
(1/4-inch) piece ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
black peppercorns
1 vanilla bean, split
2 heaping Tbsp black tea (I used an English Breakfast)

To Serve:
2 tsp vanilla extract
sweetener of choice to taste (I used about 2 tsp agave nectar)
"milk" of choice (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)

Bring water and spices to a boil in a medium saucepan, boil for 2 minutes. Turn off heat, cover pot and steep spices for 10 minutes. Bring spice water back to just at a boil, add tea and simmer about 4 minutes. Strain and reserve chai tea base. (Store in fridge up to two weeks).

To serve add the chai tea base to your favorite cup or glass, (reheat if not using right away). Heat your milk or milk substitute of choice and add to cup, proportioning to taste (I use about 2/3 chai mix to 1/3 milk). Sweeten to taste with your natural sweetener of choice. (I usually use agave or honey). Enjoy!

Notes/Results: Lovely, vanilla goodness! Sweet, spicy and perfect for a cool afternoon or evening. The almond milk works well for chai as it makes it creamy and keeps it dairy-free. It is great as a dessert on its own but chai is perfect with a cookie or two--in this case Vegetarian Times vegan "The Heart-Healthiest Chocolate-Chip Cookies in the World." (Since they are delicious enough to deserve their own post, I'll be posting the cookies early next week). It takes your basic milk and cookies to a whole new (and pretty healthy!) level. I will be making this tea again.

Happy Valentine's Day tomorrow from Max and me! ;-)
(Yes, I was having a little too much fun with my photo-editing program!)


  1. Happy Valentine's Day Max and Deb!

    Love the vanilla chai, this makes for a perfect evening dessert tea too, I'll have to get some non-milky milk and make some for when my daughter comes for dinner.

  2. Hi Deb,
    Happy Chinese New Year. (It's on the same day as V-Day). Hope the year of the tiger brings you more smiles, wealth and health.

    I love Chai Tea too! Have you ever try the Chinese bubble tea? It also quite good too.

    BTW, what photo editing system are you using? The pictures are amazing. GOOD JOB AS ALWAYS!! And I absolutely love reading your blog. I think cooking might be my next hobby. Hehe!


  3. ooh, I should add some vanilla to my chai also, I have many beans to use :) happy valentines day :)

  4. Happy V-Day Deb! And chinese New Year. I am a verified chai tea addict but I would love to learn how to make my own spice blend. Thanks for this...I'm super excited to try it!

  5. What a lovely warming drink! Love the vanilla flavor!

  6. Deb, your sipper would go quite well this morning. I awoke to about 4 inches of snow in Central Georgia. That is something that should not happen.

    Hopefully it will be gone soon...

  7. Happy Valentine's Day to you and Max as well! The tea looks and sounds wonderfully refreshing. Blessings...Mary

  8. Happy Valentine's Day! Lovely warming chai - I'm pretty tempted to make a batch of that now!

  9. I never thought to make my own chai base - but it seems simple enough.

    What photo editing program are you using? It's so cool!

  10. I have yet to make chai from scratch, I have all of the ingredients at home. Will try soon. Happy Valentine's Day!

  11. You are having so much fun with your photo editing. I love all the pictures! I love the chai tea and I'm really interested in that cookie. Hope you have a great Valentine's Day!

  12. Thanks Everyone for the positive comments. I hope you try making your own Chai--it is easy and tastes great. Vanilla works really well in it but you can really adjust it to your tastes. Chocolate Chai is great too! ;-)

    Julie and Megan--I use Picnik for a photo editor--they have some things for free or you can subscribe and pay, which I do, to access more. It is fun to play with the frames and fonts. ;-)

    Julie--I have some texture issues with bubble tea but need to try it again.

    Kim--the cookie will be up Monday or Tuesday.

  13. This sounds wonderful! I've never made my own chai tea. I have a very strong suspicion that once I do, I'll never go back. Can't wait to try this!


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