Kori and I have always been lovers of chai; whether it be a tea, a latte and even recently a good dirty chai. Last year we were on one of our usual coffee dates when we saw on the menu a chai milkshake! Instantly we knew we had to have it. Let me tell you… it was AH-mazing!
We had always known chai to be a comfort drink during the colder months, due to the warming spices used, and never even thought to drink it as a milkshake or even flavoured milk. Now, we can’t stop! With Christmas quickly approaching, it will make for the perfect, thoughtful handmade gift for your chai-loving friends.
We’ve found the store bought chai powders can be overly sweet with a subtle chai flavouring. We much prefer the other way around and tasting the flavour of the real thing.. Our homemade chai essence is so simple to make and even easier to tweak to your preference.
ESSENCE OR SYRUP
This recipe can be used to make either a chai essence or a chai syrup. It really depends on how much time you have and the budget you have to work with because as a syrup it yields less but you don’t need to use as much either.
We went through many trials to discover the best timing for the ideal consistency as well as preservation. We found the less it was cooked the quicker it spoiled.
This recipe uses whole spices and draws from their flavours which means you will always get the authentic chai flavour. We tried it with powdered versions of the spices and it really wasn’t as flavoursome (You can get away with ground nutmeg if you can’t get your hands on the real thing). The great thing with this recipe is that you can tweak the ingredients to your preferred chai. Add a bit of orange zest, some black pepper if you like a spicy chai, omit the vanilla if you want to reduce the sweetness, a pinch of fennel for an Indian chai and really just about anyway you want.
We have tried different types of unrefined sugars and found that Maple syrup compliments the spices the best. It also allows for this recipe to be vegan friendly. You can add less Maple but it will result in a thinner consistency. Adding in some orange zest can also contribute to the sweetness.
Our recipe doesn’t call for black tea so it can be kid friendly too. In saying that though, you can add the contents of 8 black tea bags, to your tea strainer, if you do prefer to have the tea flavour.
Here’s the best part, it can be served in so many different ways. How much you use depends on you but we find 2-3 teaspoons for essence and 1 teaspoon for syrup is more than enough for us, and even the kids! Add it to a glass of cold milk (tastes delicious with almond milk if you’re looking for a dairy free option), add it to your coffee for a dirty chai, you can even use it in place of vanilla extract in your baking to give it a unique chai flavour.
Have a play around with it, and if you’re anything like us, once you’ve tried it you will always have a batch ready in the fridge.
Once you’ve made your chai essence or syrup, it must be stored in the fridge. We’ve found the syrup lasts longer than the essence but you will easily get 4 weeks out them if you store it in an airtight, sterilised glass jar of some sort.
We can not wait for you all to try this and gift it to your loved ones. Please let us know if you loved it as much as us and any flavour combinations you tried and loved!
400ml 100% Maple Syrup
6 whole cloves
2 cinnamon Sticks
6 cardamon pods
2 star anise
½ tsp ground nutmeg
Ginger, size of a 5 cent piece
1 vanilla bean
- Bruise your cardamon pods, slice your vanilla bean and even slice your ginger. Put all your prepared, dry ingredients into a large tea strainer.
- Place your tea strainer into a saucepan, minimum 3 litre capacity, along with the water and bring it to the boil.
- Reduce your heat so that you have a steady simmer, we found a medium heat worked well.
- If you’re looking for essence take your saucepan off the heat at around the 1 hour mark, it should have reduced down to 1 litre. If you are making a syrup, it will need another 30 minutes, reducing to around 500-600 mls.