Journey to the Perfect Chai Latte
I’ve tasted dozens of chai teas since my initial discovery about 15 years ago, but none compared to my first chai latte experience. There was a chai guy in Santa Cruz, CA who founded a company called Up and Atom.
This chai was like nothing I’d tasted. Made from a combination of whole herbs and spices, it was rich, bold and energizing. Chai latte quickly replaced my morning coffee, and was there again for a lift mid-afternoon. I loved the energizing effects of the herbs and spices that didn’t need sugar or caffeine to satisfy. But eventually Up and Atom must of have packed it up for greener pastures, and one day, to my dismay, that chai was no longer available. I was devastated,
I needed to do something fast. It was then that I made it my mission to try every chai I come across, from Starbucks to Celestial Seasonings to the tiny cafe serving hand-blended lattes. Despite my best efforts, I could not find a good replacement. Premixes were sugar syrupy, sachets tasteless and loose leafs uninspiring.
I had begun to make my own version using a variety of herbs that both taste great and boast health benefits. I continued to refine it as I learned more about the health properties of the ingredients I could include, and taste testing my recipe at numerous foodie events.
Since then my basic chai recipe has developed in both process and ingredients into the best tasting blend possible. The ingredients are hand sourced for freshness and flavor, there is a hint of sweetness from the licorice root and cinnamon, the green cardamom pods are hand-crushed immediately before blending, the only way to fully capture the fleeting, fragrant aroma. The exact measure of ingredients has undergone hundreds of test runs before finally reaching the perfect balance.
Then there is the question of timing. Steeping individual cups of tea is highly time consuming, and in my experience, completely unnecessary. While most of us are perfectly comfortable brewing a pot or French press full of coffee, tea is less obvious. In truth it’s the same process. The nice thing about tea is it’s less sensitive to temperature and time. I brew pots of tea in my French press and refrigerate them to last all week. Then it’s heat or ice on demand, ready in an instant, still tasting freshly brewed.
French Press Energy Chai
To make 8-10 servings: add 1/4 cup of chai to your 4-6 cup tea press, and pour in enough simmering water to fill (per manufacturers instructions). Steep for 5 minutes, and press.
Microwave version: combine 1/4 cup of chai and 4-6 cups water in your tea press, removing all metal parts, and microwave for 4-5 minutes just before it begins to simmer.
Press and pour tea into a glass jar or bottle. You can reuse your tea at least one time to extract maximum flavor, using the same process to brew a second pot.
Easy Chai Latte
Add ¼ cup of your favorite plant or dairy milk per cup of chai, and sweeten with stevia or a touch of honey for a satisfying, energy boost any time of day!