Almond milk chai lattes are my weakness.
I love a good amount of creamy froth on top (not for everyone I know), so I should probably call my latte’s something more like “froth-a-chino’s” but I don’t think anyone would know what I’m talking about. I definitely prefer the spicy style chai as opposed to the sweet mild ones, and the type of almond milk is of course important too!
There’s one particular organic brand that uses activated almonds and only has a small amount of rice syrup added for sweetness. It has a lovely mild almond flavour and steams up beautifully to make a thick creamy milk. Fresh almond milk is amazing too if you have the time or inclination.
After reading the ingredients of all the chai syrups on the market I found the second ingredient is invariably refined sugar. This gave me great incentive to try and make my own healthier version.
My first few attempts didn’t turn out so well. They lacked the full flavour I was after which I’m pretty sure this was due to the alternative sweeteners I was trying to use.
My incentive to create my own chai syrup increased significantly after I was advised to avoid caffeine for a while. Despite not drinking coffee or black tea, I hadn’t considered chai syrup as a source of caffeine despite it containing black tea.
Determined not to give up my beloved chai lattes, I set about creating an amazing chai recipe without black tea or too much sweetener!
The winning chai syrup recipe is not overly sweet because it only contains a small amount of raw cane sugar. I ended up using raw cane sugar because the alternative sweeteners I tried didn’t match up flavour-wise. If you don’t want to use cane sugar then definitely feel free to substitute a sweetener of your choice. Raw honey or pure maple syrup would also be delicious.
The secret to the rich flavour of this chai syrup is the fresh ginger, cracked pepper and a pinch of cayenne. If you’re not into spicy, don’t let those ingredients put you off. This recipe isn’t one of those crazy, super spicy chai’s. The pepper and cayenne merely complement the other flavours. And of course, you can control how spicy you make your latte by the amount of chai syrup you add to your cup.
If you’re a traditionalist and don’t care about the caffeine, then by all means add the black tea. I’ve included this as an option in the recipe below.
This spicy chai syrup can be used for warm or iced drinks, and is delicious as a flavouring in baking and desserts.
Homemade Spicy Chai Syrup
Makes: Approximately 750ml
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 45 minutes
5 cups filtered water
1/2 cup raw cane sugar (or sweetener of choice e.g. raw honey)
10 cm piece fresh ginger, sliced thinly
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
6 cardamon pods, cracked open
2 tsp whole cloves
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1/4 tsp vanilla powder
pinch cayenne pepper
4 black tea bags (optional)
Place all the ingredients into a medium sized pan and bring to the boil (note if you’re using raw honey leave this out and add at the end when you take it off the heat). When the mixture starts to boil, turn the heat down and let simmer for 30 minutes or so – totally cooking time should be about 45 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and if using the tea bags place them in at this point. When the syrup is cool enough to handle, strain it through a piece of muslin, nut milk bag or fine sieve. Pour the chai syrup into a bottle, seal and store in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.
The leftover spices can be used to make a second batch of chai syrup, simply add them to another 5 cups of water and 1/2 cup raw sugar. If it looks like you lost a lot of the ground spices in the sieving process simply add some more of these, and follow the cooking instructions above.
To serve hot: place approximately 30ml of chai syrup into a mug and top with heated/steamed milk of your choice.
To serve cold: place 40ml chai syrup into a blender jug with a handful of ice and 1 cup of milk of your choice, blend until smooth.