Chai Lattes: how I became my own barista

My love affair with chai tea lattes began many years ago when I was working in a college town where coffee shops were in abundance, and though any one in particular might not stay in business long, there was always one within easy distance of my drive to and from work.

But when I no longer worked there and was working in the same small town where I live, I had to say goodbye to one of my favorite treats.

Then about a year or two ago, my Dad got one of those single serving coffee makers and I rediscovered my love of spiced tea and warm milk all over again!

But, woe is me, I don’t have a magic machine of my own and I really didn’t want one. I was, however, determined to find a way to make the perfect latte at home. The internet led me to many fine machines. Some of them so fine that they cost nearly a thousand dollars. I kid you not.

So, I set my sights a little lower… really and truly I didn’t need a machine that would steep my tea… I just needed a way to make some nice frothy milk. Well, they make machines for that too. And nifty devices and all sorts of gizmos. But here’s what I discovered through a little trial and error of my own.

To make the absolutely perfectly sublime latte, you need (wait for it)…. A pot. And a whisk. That’s it folks. When it comes right down to it, all you need are two kitchen tools that I can almost guarantee you already have in your kitchen cabinets.

Now, when I want a delicious chai latte, I need go no further than my own kitchen and in little more than 5 minutes, I can enjoy the warm, comforting tastes and aromas of a perfectly steeped tea blended with splendidly frothed milk. All for the fraction of the cost of a coffee shop brew and without the need to go into debt for a new kitchen appliance that will spend most of its lifetime being in the way. (Oh… and I use all organic ingredients, so it’s way better anyway!!)

Here’s how you too can become your own barista!

All you need is one small pot, chai tea (bags or loose, however you prefer), sugar (or IMG_0200sweetener of your choice), water, spoon, whisk and mug. I use Tazo organic chai tea bags (which I buy by the case from Amazon), organic whole milk and organic sugar to make mine.

First heat some water to boiling. I usually put about 1 cup in the pot, but use less than half that amount (it’s hard to boil half a cup of water).

Pour over tea and let steep for at least 5 mins. Five minutes works well because it’s longIMG_0203 enough, but also gives you just enough time to froth and heat your milk. As you can see in the photo, I like strong tea and use two bags. Be sure to use only a small amount of water, you’ll need room in the cup for the milk.

I also like it pretty sweet, so I usually add between 2 and 3 spoons of sugar – depending on my mood.  🙂  I go ahead and add the sugar when I first add the hot water and stir to dissolve it completely. Set your timer for 5 minutes.

IMG_0204.JPGNext, discard any remaining water from the pot (use more or less of the 1 cup depending on how strong you like your tea). Add 1 cup of whole milk to the pot over medium to medium high heat. And whisk. Heat the milk almost to the point of scalding, but once it starts heating, don’t stop whisking. If it threatens to boil over (as it is doing in this photo), simply lift it from the heat and whisk some more. Reduce burner heat if necessary. By the time your timer goes off for the tea, the milk should be sufficiently heated and frothy.

Pour the heated milk over the steeped tea using the flat of a spoon to hold back the froth, gently stir your milk and tea, then spoon the remaining froth on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon. And voila!

You too are now your own barista! Give yourself a nice tip and go enjoy your very inexpensive yet luxuriantly delicious latte.

***As always, I do not get paid to mention any specific brands, nor am I personally endorsing them, this is just what I happen to use.



Life overcomes

I was recently given ten fruit trees from a friend who was moving. It was necessary to transplant the trees during the heat of the summer – not an ideal time for the move. But I am happy to report that nine of the ten not only survived, but are now thriving in their new home!

People and plants have a lot of things in common. Life in general, though complex beyond human comprehension, when pared down to its simplest form was created to survive. Even with the odds stacked against them, nine little trees dug their roots in and flourished. (We won’t talk about poor number ten, the jury is still out on that one).

Life overcomes, that’s what it was designed to do. It fights, it pushes, it seeks, it adapts, it goes on.

We’ve all seen it in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The poignant photos of people literally clinging to life… hanging on to whatever they were able to in order to keep from being swept away and under. Even the wildlife. Stunning photos of wild animals swimming toward humans on boats, instinctively knowing that they needed to overcome their fear of humans if they wanted to survive. And they did.

We will see it again when the raging fires are finally tamed throughout the Western States. Life will overcome. Barren, blackened, bleak landscapes will be transformed as new life rises from the ashes – tiny tendrils of green will push through the black and unfurl beneath the sun.

As Hurricane Irma wreaks havoc throughout the Caribbean and now inches it’s way on Florida’s shore, life will once again be put to the test. The news will be full of destruction and sadly, there will be deaths. But watch for life.

One of my favorite tv shows from earliest childhood memories was Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Something about him was always very soothing and reassuring. In an interview once, he said that his mother always told him to look for the helpers in any disaster situation – they’re always there.

And it’s true. If you look, you’ll find the good. You’ll see the helpers. Life overcomes.