Chai Tea Latte
It’s that time of year when iced drinks are becoming too cold and warm drinks are just what the dietitian ordered to warm your hands and to keep you healthy. WAIT! I am not talking about your orange mocha Frappuccinos (2 Zoolander quotes in a row? I’m on fire!). No, no, no. Seriously, sometimes when I am in line at a coffee shop I have to use every ounce of self control I have to not scream NO,WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!?!!?!?! I want to react like Cady in Mean Girls would in the jungle but I use self restraint and busy my mind with other thoughts. That is why this year I am giving you a homemade #sassyapproved recipe that can used as a gift or for yourself.
That being said, I used to be a Chai Tea Latte enthusiast and addict. While all my friends in college were ordering espresso this and coffee that I stuck to my chai tea latte as it was the only caffeinated beverage that I enjoyed. My how things have changed. While I could’ve been doing worse, let’s be honest I could have been doing FAR better. Most chai tea concentrates out there come from a box and you have zero control as to what ingredients are in there and how much sugar each cup will have. While not nearly as bad as some of those scary Frappuccionos out there, it still is interesting what they will put in there. My favorite (aka least favorite) ingredient is the “natural flavors”. What does that even mean? There is a laundry list of items that could fall into that category and I am a-okay not putting those in my body ever, no thank you!
Let’s look at the ingredient list of some of the top selling brands of Chai Tea concentrate, shall we?
a) An infusion of (water, black tea, black pepper, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, natural flavors), cane sugar, honey, ginger juice, natural flavors, vanilla extract, citric acid. Total sugar content = 16 grams per 1/2 cup.
b) Water, organic evaporated cane juice, organic black tea, *organic vanilla, *organic spices, organic honey, citric acid, natural flavors. Total sugar content = 19 grams per 1/2 cup.
You are probably thinking, but wait I can pronounce all of those ingredients and nothing looks all that funky! You would be right, this is not the worst a packaged product could get. However, there are two sticking points that I cannot look past and is why I wanted to make my own chai tea concentrate. First problem, “natural flavors”, that could literally mean anything! I want to know what is in my product and second, SUGAR! Both have 2 sources if not 3 of sugar. My recipe? One source of sugar and it comes from local raw honey. While sugar in large quantities is not good for anyone, if you are going to have sugar I’d prefer it be in the form of an all natural, local product like honey or maple syrup. Both of these also have trace minerals that can contribute to your health, just don’t overdo it.
Okay, lecture over. Why is chai tea the best? Well, first off it taste amazing, you could take this concentrate and water it down 1:1 and still be left with a delicious treat. However all the spices in this chai tea make it a power house of nutrition. Cinnamon has been show to help control blood sugar levels, ginger can help with an upset stomach, cloves can help with toothaches and many of the spices can help reduce inflammation. Wow! Who knew?
Enough of the nutrition lesson, get cracking at this recipe. It takes a good 1/2 hour to make but is very easy and straightforward. I buy my spices in bulk to both save money and to only purchase as much as I need. If you are in the Albany, NY area, head to The Honest Weight Food Coop and grab your spices. I used ball canning jars to can my chai tea, if you are not going to use them right away it might be best to preserve them by squeezing a bit of lemon juice in each jar and sealing it with a canning process. Otherwise, tie it with a bow add a label (see below) and watch your friends and family swoon over their gift. Get them a fun mug to drink it from because who doesn’t like a brand new coffee/tea mug?
Alright, time for the recipe, enjoy!
Make this chai tea concentrate a latte by mixing 1 part of the chai tea with 2 parts of your favorite milk! I used a frother to make my latte foamy but you can also use a blender, an immersion blender or put it in a tightly sealed glass jar and shake violently for a good arm workout. Top it with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon or nutmeg and warm yourself up!
Want to give these away as a gift? Tie a ribbon around the jar and put a label on it so they know what to do with your DIY gift and what ingredients are in there. Print it out here: Chai Tea Latte Gift Labels.
Enjoy a hot cup of chai and make sure to tag me on instagram, facebook or twitter @TheSassyDietitian with #ChaiwithSassy