How to Make Chai Like MacGyver

March 11, 2013 11:39 by rob

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**.

 

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*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


Big Train Chai Coupon - $5 Off at SeriousChai.com

February 25, 2013 12:20 by kelly

Monday is the best day of the week!!! (bear with me here)

 

"But WHY?!?" you ask with incredulity.

 

The answer is simple. On this fair Monday, we'd like to offer you... A COUPON!

 

Take $5 off your order of $35 or more at SeriousChai.com today through the end of February.  Take it off anything you'd like - chai, tea, coffee, cider, cocoa, even candy

 

Simply enter FEBFIVE at checkout, and you'll understand why Monday is the best day of all! 


Long Winter or Early Spring I Need Only Know One Thing

February 11, 2013 23:55 by rob

Until only months ago, I [thought I] did not like chai.

 

Which seems quite ridiculous as my current cuppa chai sits not 6 inches from me; steam curling and twisting as my tea cools from liquid magma to a more drinkable temperature, and the smell of cinnamon, spices and a hint of vanilla drifts around my cubicle.


 

My current favorite 'recipe' is as follows;

2 Novus Spiced Chai teabags steeped, in a big mug, until almost dark as coffee

Stir with an Amber Sugar Cane stick until dissolved

Top off with Vanilla soymilk.

 

It's not just the drink's heat that is so welcome on a snow-frosted (but, of course, not enough for us all to be snowed in our cozy houses) Monday morning, but the flavor itself that warms you up from the belly out. The spice, the sweet, the rich bold flavor of the full leaf black tea… Really all that's missing is another 34" of snow.

 


Punky Phil says Spring's coming soon

Though, with an accuracy percent of 39

I trust him like I trust snow in June.

So to a long winter, we must all resign.

 

But my chai isn't all that's warm and sweet,

Winter also means a day called Valentine,

And I've got one request, don't make me repeat,

How 'bout it Chai, will you be mine?

 


…Just don't tell the Cocomels; the creamiest of artisan, small batch vegan caramels made with the smooth and healthful wonders of Coconut Milk. I may or may not already have a Valentine.

Honestly who could resist? Whether it's the perfectly executed contrast of salty and sweet with just a sprinkle of Fleur de Sel Sea Salt, or the dark and rich flavor of organic espresso beans carried perfectly on the subtly sweet undercurrent of creamy caramel and coconut milk, there is also Vanilla and the classic Original and nothing artificial or saccharine about 'em.

 

On second thought, maybe I'll be my own Valentine.

And I'll give my Valentine – the handsome, rakish, rogue that he is – enough Chai Tea to make it till Spring, whenever it arrives, and a whole barrel of Cocomels.

 

My, my, how thoughtful my Valentine is; that's exactly what I wanted.


Cyber Monday 10% Off at All of our Retail Shops!

November 26, 2012 23:25 by kelly

This is Cyber:

 

And THIS is Cyber Monday:

 

So, let's say you were wanting to travel into - or out of, as the case may be - the Matrix. You'd want to choose the first picture, and this blog post probably won't help you. 

 

But, let's say you were waiting to buy that perfect thing from one of our Serious Shops.

Like... a Don't Break the Bottle Corkscrew wine bottle puzzle:

 

Or, maybe a big Squishable Narwhal:


(Many thanks to ToyBoxPhilosopher.com for this rad photo WITH a Rubik's Cube! How perfect is that?)

 

Or a bottle (or four) of Third Street Organic Chai:

 

Then, you'll want to choose the second picture, and quickly! Wait no longer. No longer than 11/29/2012 at 3am EST anyway, because that's when our 10% Off Sitewide Cyber Monday coupon expires. Go Cyber. Go Serious on Cyber Monday.


Hot Drinks are Delicious - It is Known

October 24, 2012 12:34 by rob

Winter is coming.


Short and often gray days, long and cold nights, and the way-too-dark-to-be-awake-yet frigid mornings, it’s all just around the corner and getting closer with every day. If there is one thing that can dull the bitter edge of a Winter’s morning – other than simply staying cocooned in my sufficiently warm bed, of course – it’s a steaming hot drink. Whether it be coffee, tea, cider, hot chocolate or maté, it’s all good to me as long as it’s hot!

 


(image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/grggrssmr/)

 

 

I love hot drinks, and I drink them year round despite what the current weather may be, but the colder months make a hot drink much more than just a tasty beverage! Picture this:

The sky is heavy with dreary clouds, so little sunlight cracking through that the dew on the grass will still be frosted by mid-afternoon, and the morning wind must be blowing out of the North because there is a chill on the breeze – a notable feat considering the already freezing temperatures. You sit inside, peering out at the beginnings of the frigid day, and try to guesstimate how many layers of hoodies and thermals and jackets it will take to keep you warm just on the walk across your yard to your car.

Then the teapot whistles, the coffee machine emits a final bubbling sputter, the iron kettle over your traditional fire pit begins to boil over as you rush to scoop the water into a hollowed gourd filled with dry yerba maté. With a toasty ceramic mug, or a hollowed gourd bellowing steam, cradled in your hands, spreading its warmth to your skin, the world outside looks a bit less cold, take a sip and the heat spreads through your core.

Let frosty winds blow, let the snow fall, let the Sun get away with lazy hour days for the next few months, as long as you’ve got a steaming mug of delicious beverage... Let Winter Come!

 

 

Whatever your taste, whatever your preference, chances are we’ve got the tasty beverage to fill that steaming mug every icy morning of the Winter months. We carry a whole range of Lavazza brand Coffee and Espresso, featuring whole beans or ground, 100% Arabica specifically selected for each roast from key climates around the world, or even bold blends of primarily Robusta coffee for that extra dark and extra strong kick.

Maybe coffee isn’t your speed, but with Autumn in full swing – treetops aflame with the vibrant colors of leaves dying for the season – who can turn down a piping hot and easy to make cup of Apple Cider? If you could take a roaring campfire, an apple orchard, and a crisp fall breeze, and concentrate them into a beverage, I’m fairly positive the result would be Apple Cider.

 


(image source: applecreekorchards.com)

 

Or, perhaps you still want the caffeine but in something less brash than coffee; what about high-quality, finely cut, fair trade, and organic whole leaf tea? Whatever your flavor preference, however bold or light you like your leaves, no matter what your caffeine requirement, loose leaf or in their easy to use and 100% biodegradable tea sachets, there is a tea here for you! Add a bit of Old World elegance to your morning proceedings with a spot ‘o Earl Grey.

If all of these delicious, but arguably mainstream, beverages sound too cliché to you than perhaps a bit of maté is up your alley. Derived from the traditional South American drink that is, in fact, served in a hollowed gourd from which one drinks through a silver filtered straw; Pixie Maté concentrates pack the punch and bring the flavor. Take the original route – a flavor laced with cardamom, vanilla & cloves – or find bliss in the Chai infusion, either way you’re on the quick route to the “gentle hum of an awakened mind and a vibrant body.” Unlike a caffeine buzz, jittery and peaked with highs and lows, Maté provides a balanced current of energy supplied by the potent and unique blend of xanthines as well as a ‘llama-load’ of antioxidants!

 


(image source: voxxi.com)

 

Whatever your preference, we’ve got the liquid heat to fill your mug this Winter…

What’s that? A drink that tastes like coffee, but it can’t be coffee it has to be made from tea, and it can’t have caffeine?

Okay, we don’t have Coffee-Flavored Decaffeinated Oolong tea. Yet. (You got us there.) But have you seen our Chai selection?


For the love of all things luscious (and routine)!

August 31, 2009 23:27 by kelly

Every morning, I have a routine I like to follow once I get to work (at home or at the office).  I prepare an iced drink (non-alcoholic, settle down now, folks!) in a tall glass with a straw for myself before applying myself to my work.  Somehow, sipping cool yummy refreshment through a straw makes any task simpler, don’t you think? Certainly, it must be linked to productivity, I’m quite sure.  I mean, who couldn’t be more productive while sipping an iced, luscious, whatever? Mary Poppins certainly knew what she was saying, when she sang: 

 

“In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap!
The job’s a game… A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down in a most delightful way”

 

Over the years, I’ve had varying favorite morning confections. I’ve consistently enjoyed a good glass of iced chai, even on a chilly morning in Maine.  One of my favorites is Big Train Gingerbread Chai  Now I know what you’re thinking: Gingerbread?  In August?  Well, you can drink this even when reindeer are not expected on the roof in the near future.  I usually add a bit more milk than the recipe calls for, and plenty of ice. It’s creamy, smooth, spicy, and just enough sweet, and brings to mind a delicious, drinkable cookie. Who wouldn’t want just the hint of a cookie every morning?

 

There are mornings, however, when I’m in the mood for something not so creamy, but still craving the spiciness of chai.  Those days, I’ll go for Big Train Sereno Organic Chai  – no milk in the concentrate; just organic black tea, spices, honey & cane juice.  It tastes quite good made with plain ricemilk; light & refreshing.

Recently, though, I’ve been more of a coffee fan. Well, let’s restate that for accuracy & truthfulness, shall we? Always, I’ve been an ardent coffee fan.  Recently, though, I’ve been making an iced latte that I’ve been hooked on for a while now (and, is saving me money by no longer visiting unnamed drive-through coffee chain on a regular basis). 

 

 

To make my morning iced latte, first, use 1 pump of either Monin Organic Vanilla or Caramel syrup (depending on mood). Next, fill the bottom 1/3 of the glass with iced Lavazza In Blu –  perhaps the most lovely tasting espresso out there (brew double strength for iced use, and I always recommend a french press over a standard drip coffee maker, any day). Finally, add another 1/3 glass of cold milk (cow, rice, or almond milk – all good in their own ways), and fill the final 1/3 with ice.  Stir, then add the all important straw (I’m partial to the rainbow-colored bendy straws, myself).  Sip slowly & enjoy your morning!