A while ago I Pinned to one of my Boards, a link for an ‘Instant Vanilla Chai’. Even though the recipe was mostly non-dairy creamers, I thought it was a great idea, and that my sister – a Chai lover – would need this for a gift. Notice I didn’t say ‘Christmas Gift’, because this will never wait that long. It’s just too good. She’ll be sipping it as soon as I can find a way to get it to her in wonderland.
Wonderland? Well, you’d have to know my sister. She resides in a blur of weirdness and occasionally drifts back to reality with a phone call to ‘the voice of reason’ when it’s all just too bizarre. I know I’m in trouble when a perfectly benign conversation takes a turn for the strange, usually containing the phrase, “oh no, wait for it…” So, with everything turning a bit cooler, and knowing that she operates most of her life sans electricity, this will be a warming ‘Drink Me.’ that my Alice can make with just boiling water. And hopefully block out the cacophony of emptiness that the off-the-grid lifestyle has in store for her daily.
‘Drink Me’ – Instant Chai
The cast of characters contains some strange one’s. The original recipe, as I’d said contained about half non-dairy creamers and was labeled ‘Vanilla Chai’. Now, I like a good vanilla chai, but the artificiality of the CoffeeMate was not something I was going for. My Foodie family members won’t drink it. That said, look in your store for Nestle’s Nido, which is dry whole milk. This was always in our hurricane kit when my son was small so I was sure to have instant whole milk available if the need arose. It’s at least real milk.
The next thing you may find odd is the Instant Tea. Read carefully when you shop for this, as out of some 20 varieties of instant iced teas, it was the only one with out sugar OR lemon.
Last, but not least, vanilla sugar. Yes, I keep a small container (about 3 cups or so) in the pantry filled with sugar and 2 vanilla beans floating around. A few days later you have ‘vanilla sugar’. A very light flavor, but since I didn’t have any vanilla powder (yes, you can buy it via mail-order but it’s not a stock item here) I used it to accent the flavor. A very good call.
Gather the spices.
2 tsp Ground Ginger
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Ground Cloves
1 1/4 tsp Ground Cardamom
1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 tsp Ground Allspice
1/4 tsp Pepper (black or white)
Pinch of ground anise* (optional – I was out. It’s not everyone’s favorite spice anyway, but adds an exotic hint.)
(A small warning: these are real spices and no matter how much you pulverize them – they will never actually melt. You will have tiny ‘grounds’ in the bottom of your cup.)
In a larger bowl than I started with, mix the milks, tea and sugar
2 Cups Nido (dried whole milk powder)
1 Cup LoFat Powdered Milk (one envelope is 1 cup)
1 1/2 Cups Instant Unsweetened Iced Tea
1 1/2 Cups Sugar (or vanilla sugar)
1/4 Cup Malted Milk Powder *
Wow – looks like dirt!
*Malted Milk Powder – this didn’t make the first photo shot. This was an after thought when the mix just wasn’t creamy enough for me. This is my ‘secret ingredient’ in lots of things, like my Quick Mix…but that’s another Blog. After you’ve whisked it all together, blend it up (in batches) until it’s a fine powder. Find sweet container to house it in, like a Ball jar, or a coffee container – that’s an awesome gift! You can even sneak a vanilla bean to float around in the powder to give it a more ‘nilla punch. And it’s healthy too – you can actually read the ingredient lists on the dried milks…non-dairy? Not so much.
Here it is. Pour the hot water over about 2-3 spoonfuls. Now if you’ve got an over-sized Alice’s mug (from the cutest tea room in NYC – Alice’s Tea Cup), you’ll need some more. You can make it as creamy as you like by pouring over hot milk (OMG!). I added a touch of honey to mine, because I really like honey in my chai better. You can get dried honey powder at health food stores, but I wanted you to be able to do this out of your local supermarket. So next time you need to escape to (or from) your own Wonderland you can have this mix available in your coffee cabinet or office desk drawer labeled ‘Drink Me’…and wait for the Cheshire cat smile.