Chai latte, it’s become quite a popular offering on espresso menus everywhere.
A chai latte is a shot of spiced tea mix, sometimes a powder , sometimes a syrup , topped up with steamed milk. At work, I make my own chai syrup, and we top our lovely drink with a sprinkling of cinnamon. Looks and tastes so beautiful.
Chai = tea. Latte = milk.
Technically, we should call it Masala Chai Latte, masala translates as spiced, and here is where the wonderful magic starts.
I make two very distinct styles of chai syrup at work. One is a traditionally spiced mix, with the addition of fresh vanilla. The other is a bush spice chai.
I maintain a background of traditional exotic spices, whilst adding the evocative, and distinctive flavours and scents of the Australian bush, with spices like lemon myrtle, aniseed myrtle and pepperberry.
I really do encourage you to experiment with your chai syrup recipe. Let me tell you what I use, and how I make it, but it’s a wonderful thing to develop your own, special, bespoke blend. Decanted into bottles, and labelled, these blends make a lovely gift from the heart.
One of the first things you need to think about is – sugar!
Now, I have a fondness for palm sugar. It’s rich, luscious, and adds a caramel not to the blend. However, my daughter keeps telling me stories about homeless orang-utans, and whilst I am not pretending to know anything about the primate/palm link, I respect her input, and now use a mix of coconut sugar, and ordinary, white sugar. All the while, hoping, no creatures have been displaced or disadvantaged by my decision…
You may of course choose to leave your syrup unsweetened, although of course, it will not actually be a syrup, more like a tisane, or tea.
It may be useful, if you use alternative forms of sweetener, like stevia, or rice malt, to try these in your syrup mix. Some alternative forms or sweetener may not be suitable to boil, but may be perfectly fine added to the hot, spice liquid after the cooking process.
For my latest batch of chai syrup, this is what I used. Quantities are approximate. Trust me, trust yourself, it will be wonderful!
To make approximately 700ml of Vanilla Chai Latte Syrup
To a medium, heavy base pan, add the following:
1 cup of coconut sugar
5 cups of cold water
2 vanilla pods, split and the seeds scraped into the pan. Put the pods in the pan too.
6 whole cloves
1 freshly grated nutmeg – around a teaspoon full
8 whole, green cardamom pods, bruised to allow the flavour to escape.
6 whole black peppercorns
1 stick of cinnamon
1/2 of a star anise pod
a slice of orange peel, around the size of your thumb
a couple of slices of fresh ginger, just leave the skin on
Bring everything slowly to the boil and allow to gently simmer for 30 minutes. The 5 cups of liquid is around a litre, so just keep simmering away until it reduces to around the 700ml mark. It might take 30 minutes, it might take longer. All is good.
Your liquid will become a little thicker.
Take the pan of the heat and pop 3 ordinary black tea bags into the hot syrup to steep.
I have experimented with green teabags too, it’s lovely, they impart a more gentle and subtle tea flavour.
I only steep my teabags for around 4-5 minutes, it’s a personal preference, as I don’t want an overwhelming tea flavour, or a lot of tannin qualities in the syrup.
Strain the syrup well, and decant into your chosen bottle. Seal, and just for safety’s safe, store in the fridge.
My standard measure to a 12oz chai latte is around 40ml of syrup. I warm the syrup first, in the cup, just in the microwave, so that it doesn’t chill the hot milk.
Oh, it’s so nice. I am sure it’s good for the spirit too, so comforting and soothing.
Till next time