Crockpot masala chai concentrate

As luck would have it, I discovered Gina C.'s recipe for crockpot chai concentrate a couple weeks ago, and I've been hooked ever since. As long as you've got a crockpot (I suppose you could just make it on the stovetop too), access to bulk-bin spices, and a one-quart container, you can have tasty, cheap chai any day of the week! 

You will need:

  • 8 slices of ginger, about 1/4-inch thick each, from peeled stalk of fresh ginger
  • 2 short or one long cinnamon stick
  • 10 whole cloves (my version is very clove-y, so if you're not a fan, cut back a bit)
  • 15 green cardamon pods (pinch each one between your fingers to crack it open a little)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • a dash of nutmeg
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup honey, depending on taste preferences
  • 4 cups water
  • 6 Darjeeling or Ceylon teabags (I hate to be a tea snob, but run-of-the-mill black teabags just won't cut it)

Steps:

  1. Add everything except the teabags to the bowl of a slow cooker. Cover and turn on high.
  2. After three hours, add in the teabags, steep for 10 minutes, and then squeeze the teabags well to drain.
  3. Pour the concentrate through a fine strainer to remove all the spice solids. Once it's cooled, store the strained concentrate in a one-quart container in the fridge until you're ready to use it.
  4. For each serving, mix equal parts chai concentrate and milk of your choice. Heat in the microwave (or pour over ice, if you prefer).

This recipe doubles as an air freshener! I have a batch simmering in the kitchen right now, and the whole apartment smells amazing. What I love best about the recipe is its adaptability. If you don't like an ingredient, you can leave it out, or you can increase the amount of the spices you love. You could also add in other ingredients frequently found in chai, such as star anise, fennel seeds, or allspice berries. You could make orange-flavored chai by throwing in some dried orange peels, or you could make chocolate chai by adding some cocoa powder. You can make it less sweet or more sweet, depending on what you like, or you could even leave out the honey and just sweeten each individual serving as you make it.

If you want this to be vegan, you can substitute the honey for a different sweetener and use almond milk or soy milk to make your lattes.

P.S. I think the way I make it tastes closest to Tazo's organic boxed concentrate because of the amount of cloves I use.