As the final remnants of winter cling on, my mind travels to some of the sensational treats and flavors I have relished throughout the season. From a spectacular vegetarian chili to our go-to BS salad that everyone loves to my obligatory evening cup of hot tea, these are definitely reasons I will sigh when spring officially kicks Old Man Winter to the corner.
Hot tea and I weren’t always friends, though. But something has changed over the last five years as I have embraced drinking tea and learning about teas and I have admittedly become a tea snob. I typically steep loose tea leaves in a contraption with water to make a stirringly delicious cup. This more advanced method makes tea made with pre-packaged tea bags seem so lackluster. I have a wildly assorted collection of teas–both loose and in bags (yes, bags are acceptable under the right circumstances)–and chai is one of my favorites. The Rooibos chai from Harney & Sons is one of the best. Smooth yet bold. Creamy yet spicy.
Because David recently became a chai latte lover, I felt incentivized to make a homemade chai. So I rummaged through a bunch of recipes and cobbled ideas and ingredients together and, though it was ok, the first attempt at homemade chai latte wasn’t great. We drank it, but didn’t flip for it. Then I made a chai tea recipe from Gwyenth Paltrow’s It’s All Easy cookbook and, it was, without a doubt, a failure. One that actually ended up being poured down the drain–I am not a waster by any means, but it was that bad.
To combat my lame homemade attempts, we have been ordering chai lattes when we go out and that has helped quell our thirst for this spicy, creamy and tongue-tickling hot beverage. Not one to accept failure, I decided to test yet another recipe that combines two of my favorite drinks–chai latte and golden milk–for a golden chai latte. What could be bad about that? Absolutely nothing.
The turmeric, which can sometimes be a little sharp, mellows nicely into the cinnamon, star anise, cloves, cardamom, pepper and fresh ginger as they steep together in the water. Black tea provides the background notes and base and, while I have used both a rich coconut milk and homemade almond milk, I prefer the smooth, timid flavor of almond milk, though any plant-based milk would do. Add a generous dash of maple syrup which softens all of the spicy and sweet flavors so they become one beautiful cup of golden chai latte.
Served hot or cold, this is a golden way to get your chai on and slide into the season of spring with a little chai, chai, chai in your step.
Golden Chai Latte
This is a what happens when you marry a chai latte and golden milk. Pure bliss. It's golden and spicy and creamy and filled with anti-inflammatory properties. Enjoy hot or cold. And enjoy often. I have made this with coconut milk, oat milk and almond milk and, while I enjoyed the luscious texture and richness of the coconut milk, I prefer using almond milk.
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 sticks cinnamon
- 2 star anise
- 2 inches fresh ginger root peeled and coarsely chopped, if not using mortar and pestle, lightly mashed on the cutting board using the side of the knife
- 5 cardamom pods
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves whole (about 8)
- 1/8 teaspoon black peppercorns whole (about 7-8)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric ground
- 2 black tea bags or 2 tablspoons loose tea such as Darjeeling or black tea will also work
- 2 cups non-dairy milk almond, coconut or rice
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
Place the water in a saucepan and set over medium high heat.
If you have a mortar and pestle, use it to mash the cinnamon, star anise, ginger, cardamom, cloves and black peppercorns so you can begin to smell the spices. If you don't, try chopping or crushing the spices a bit before adding them to the water so as to break them open and allow their essence to steep in the water.
Add the ground turmeric, stir well, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a low simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the loose tea or tea bags and non-dairy milk of choice and bring back to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, turn off the heat, cover and allow to steep another 5-10 minutes.
Run through a fine mesh strainer and pour back into the pot.
Add maple syrup and stir well to dissolve completely. Taste and adjust sweetness, if needed and simmer again over medium to heat thoroughly.
Pour into mugs and serve immediately. Store any leftover latte in the fridge.