Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Chai Tea Latte

Growing up Korean has intensified my palate. I love really strong spices and extreme flavors. I can imagine that anyone who grew up eating Indian food, Thai food, Malaysian food, etc. could claim the same fate. Sorry, America, but your food is generally quite bland. I mean, salt and pepper are the main seasonings in western cuisine. But in Asia, it's all about garlic, spicy peppers, cinnamon, ginger, curry, cumin, and fermented stuff. If it's fragrant (re: odorous?), it's used.

So, even when it comes to drinks, I like a little intensity. Which means that obviously, chai is one of my favorite flavors. It's incredibly spicy and aromatic and really beautiful. I've added it to ice cream and macarons but I haven't shared my favorite (and simplest) preparation here yet: the chai tea latte.

My favorite chai blend is a loose leaf chai from McNulty's Tea & Coffee in Soho. I recently went by to restock because I was running low and I'm happy to say, we have a full half pound, hanging out in the cupboard, waiting to be consumed. There are so many different blends of chai tea - after all, it's a mishmosh of tea and spices - but I love McNulty's because it has such a delicious balance of flavors. Their blend has black pepper, orange peel, cinnamon, cloves, and sugar crystals. It's as pretty as it is tasty.
Ingredients [for one]:
1 teaspoon loose leaf chai
¼ cup water
¾ cup milk
1 to 2 teaspoon sweetener (sugar, honey, agave, stevia, etc.)
pinch cinnamon

Start by brewing an incredibly strong bit of tea. Add a teaspoon of loose leaf chai to a tea strainer and dunk it into just a quarter cup of water.
Let the tea steep for five minutes until it's a rich and deep brown.
Add a little sweetener to the concentrated tea. The heat will help dissolve the sugar; that's chemistry at work!
Top off the tea with steamed milk. If you don't have a milk steamer, just heat up the milk in a saucepan and then give it a good whisking to create some foam (which is exactly what I did).
Garnish with just a sprinkle of cinnamon because it looks pretty and festive. And then dig in! It's spicy and sweet and creamy and delicious. It's the ideal winter beverage for cozying up with a book, especially in a little plaid print mug.

By the way, I am fully aware that it's nearing the end of January and that I need to stop posting photos with fairy lights and Christmas baubles in the background. However, let me clarify that I made this drink in December so at the time, the decor was totally appropriate. Besides, who doesn't like fairy lights? I think we're keeping ours up through January. February 1, we'll take them down. Maybe.
Here's the recipe page, as if you need it!:

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