If only I was an expert craftsman in woodworking. I've got a solid mustache, if I do say so myself, and an even more handsome beard to go along with it, and I definitely do say so myself. I've even got a cynical eye for wasteful bureaucracy, a strong sense of personal independence, and would probably marry Lucy Lawless in a heartbeat.
What I'm trying to say, is I'm almost but not completely imbued with a Ron Swanson-esque vibe, and I'd really like the whole kit & kaboodle to really give this the sturdy DIY toughness I want… but I don't have a quick enough montage to become a carpenter, so close will have to be good enough for horseshoes, hand grenades, and homemade chai blogs.
Having worked at a company, quite serious about its chai, for a year and a half without trying more than a glimpsing taste, it's odd that it was an audiobook called Shantaram that incited my personal chai investigation.
I mentioned my favorite [at the time] recipe in my last entry, but things have progressed quite a bit since then. Of all Shantaram's descriptions and portrayals of Chai that pushed me to reexamine the spiced sweet tea, the biggest impact was from the focus on how it was made from scratch, by hand for each cup.
Stirred steadily in a copper pot over a low flame so that savory aroma seasons every inhale, made by your own hand and served into an earthen mug straight from the steaming pot.
It calls to mind the feeling of cooking your own dinner over a campfire; it's that rustic, hearty, and independent sense of making something amazing for yourself.
If ol' Duke Silver drank Chai, that's how he'd make it.
If you love Chai but have never made it for yourself from scratch, I encourage you to try it once and see if it isn't extra satisfying.
I've been making mine with Coconut Milk lately, mostly for the health benefits. Coconut oil was long vilified for its high content of saturated fats but, as we've come to understand this tropical drupe a bit more, we're learning that virgin coconut oil (like what is in coconut milk) has a high lauric acid content which contributes to an overall better cholesterol profile and has medium-chain triglycerides which may not carry the same risks as other saturated fats.
• Pour coconut milk into a pot (same amount as you would use for water in preparing the same amount of tea)
• Heat over medium flame until lightly simmering
• Lower flame a bit and pour in loose Chai Tea (like these whole leaf options! In a re-sealable pouch or the Novus Tea Sachets which become loose leaf tea with a simple pair of scissors)
• Stir slowly for 1-2 minutes, reduce flame to low and stir another 2-3 minutes.
• Add sweetener (I often use a Vanilla Coconut Milk so I add only the tiniest bit of raw honey. No matter what, keep in mind Coconut Milk's natural sweetness when adding sugar/honey/agave)
• Turn off flame (additional stirring if your sweetener hasn't mixed yet)
I don't have any of the professional… or even any of the adeptly prepared amateur… tea drinker's tools, so getting the loose tea and spices out of my cup of awesome called forth a bit of my inner MacGyver. If you also find yourself with a pot of awesome mixed with tea flotsam and no fancy tea making equipment… or even a basic strainer… then try this simple trick:
Works best with a big mug, I actually use a beer stein (teacups and coffee mugs are too small)
• Place a piece of tin foil over cup and crimp down around the lip to form a slight bowl shape inside the cup
• Poke about a dozen or so small holes in the lowest part of the tin foil bowl
• Pour contents of pot slowly through your homemade strainer
• Remove tin foil
Don't forget to take a moment to admire the result of your efforts; a handcrafted cup of sweet spiced tea. Also take a moment because it is probably super super hot!
If you prefer the dairy route, the process is relatively the same. I prefer whole milk, 2 parts milk 1 part water, heat on medium flame till simmering (stir frequently) and proceed as listed above.
Can you mix whole milk and vanilla coconut milk to have all the creamy consistency of whole milk with the sweet flavor and health benefits of the coconut for the cup of Chai of destiny?
I don't know. I only thought of that idea while I was writing this, but I'm going to try it!
Has anyone else tried this, any thoughts on how it might turn out, do you want to know the results? Reach us by comment, email, smoke signal*, or carrier pigeon**.
*Smoke signal reception depends on wind speed and direction, weather, and if our lookout brought his binoculars.
**Carrier Pigeons should be able to out-maneuver this seriously stoic fella