When I was a teenager, I fancied myself a bit of a poet. I was also extremely shy and quiet, and when I was sixteen I took a huge step out of my comfort zone and got up on stage at an open mic night at a local coffee shop. As nervous as I was to be reading aloud, I was even more terrified due to my secret crush on the barista working there.
Up on stage, I remember feeling like the wind had gotten knocked out of me before I even began. I’m pretty sure I read my poem all in one big, nervous breath, because I finished in record time. There were only a few people in the room, but it was more than enough to scare the cool out of me.
After my performance (if you could even call it that), I hurried over to the bar where my mother was sitting, trying desperately not to let my nerves show in front of Mr. Barista. Having overheard that it had been my first open mic, he came over to congratulate me, and offered to make me whatever drink I wanted, on the house.
It was the first time anyone had offered to buy me a drink. I ordered a tall chai tea latte… and let me tell you, it has been my favorite drink ever since.
Now I’m going to pass that favor along, and give away some of my favorite teas to you!
I love to wrap my hands around a nice hot chai in the winter, but in the summer months I prefer a cooler option. That’s where these super-concentrated chai iced tea cubes come in. Just add a couple cubes to a glass of milk (or dairy-free substitute), and you’ve got a refreshing glass of iced chai tea.
Masala Chai literally means “spiced tea” (which means it is doubly redundant for us to call it “Masala Spiced Chai Tea”, but so be it) and is made by steeping a strong black tea with whole spices like cardamom, ginger, clove, and cinnamon. I used an English Breakfast tea for this recipe, from the company Arbor Teas. You can make your chai with whatever black tea you like, but this is definitely one of my favorites. The quality of the tea makes all the difference!
Image Source: ArborTeas.com
Arbor Teas is a local company here in Ann Arbor, and they are probably one of the greenest businesses I know. Not only do they work hard to make sure their products are organic, fair trade, and sustainable, but they participate in renewable energy programs, offset their carbon footprint, and even created their very own compostable packaging. Companies like this make me proud of my home town.
They also happen to deliver some of the best teas I’ve ever had the pleasure of sipping, which pretty much makes them my favorite tea company ever.
When I sent them an email a few weeks back to say how in love with their teas I am, they were kind enough to offer me some free samples. That’s right, free tea! Lucky for you, I’m going to be generous and share.
I’m giving away 3 samples of my favorite teas from Arbor Teas. They are: English Breakfast (the same one I used to make this recipe), Gunpowder Green, and Chocolate Pu-Erh. It was the Chocolate Pu-Erh that got me hooked on their stuff in the first place, with its mix of Chinese tea, organic cocoa-nibs, and almonds… mm! Each sample contains almost a 1/4 cup of loose leaf tea, or enough for about 9-10 servings.
I’m also throwing in my favorite tea-steeper ever! This thing is great for any loose-leaf tea, and fits nicely inside a regular cup or mug. Plus, when you’re done steeping, the lid doubles as a little platform to set the basket in so there are no drips. Pretty genius, huh?
If you love your tea as much as I do, this will quickly become your best friend.
To enter the giveaway:
Leave me a comment below. That’s it! If you want to make an additional entry, you can like me on facebook, follow me on twitter, or add me on Google+, and leave me a separate comment for each one that you do. The giveaway is open between now and July 23rd, 2013.
On Tuesday, July 23rd I will pick a winner at random, and contact them for their shipping information. The winner will have 48 hours to respond, after which, if they haven’t, another winner will be chosen. The giveaway is open to anyone over the age of 18, but unfortunately I can only ship within the United States… my apologies to everyone up in Canada!
If you want to check out Arbor Teas for yourself, you can go to their website, here: www.arborteas.com — and be sure to tell them Willow sent you!
Now, on to the recipe!
Recipe notes: I used Arbor Tea’s English Breakfast Tea for this recipe, because I love it. The English Breakfast is a mix of Indian black teas, but for a more authentic chai you might want to try their organic Indian Assam tea. You can find that here: Organic Indian Assam
Chai Iced Tea Cubes (Homemade Masala Chai)
Makes about 2 cups (gluten-free, easily made vegan)
2 1/2 cups water
1 whole star anise
1 whole cinnamon stick
3-4 whole cloves
4-5 whole black peppercorns
4-5 cardamom pods, cracked
2-3 thin shavings of fresh ginger root (I used a vegetable peeler)
1/4 cup + 2 TBSP turbinado sugar (or sucanat, or light brown sugar)
3-4 TBSP loose leaf black tea (or 4-5 tea bags)
For serving: 4-5 cups whole milk (or your favorite vegan alternative – coconut would be nice!)
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, whole spices, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then cover and remove from the heat. Let steep anywhere from 5-15 minutes, depending on how strong you like the spices to be.
2. Return to the heat and bring to a boil. Add the tea, remove from the heat, and let steep for another 5-7 minutes.
3. Strain out the tea and spices. If you’d like to make a regular batch of chai, add the milk and serve immediately. To make the chai iced tea cubes, let the mixture cool, then pour into an ice-cube tray and freeze.
4. To make an iced chai latte, add 2-3 ice cubes to a glass of milk (about 1/4 cup of milk per cube). The tea will get stronger the longer it sits and the more the ice cubes melt. Garnish with a dash of cinnamon, and enjoy!