Friday, February 18, 2011

Pregnancy drink series: week 3, decaf chai latte

Chai is one of my favorite coffee shop drinks (since I don't really like coffee).  The trouble with chai and pregnancy is that I don't think you can really get a good estimate of how much caffeine is in it because of the variety of ways it's prepared.  Here's a list of a few brands, and how much caffeine they have per 12 ozs (numbers from and
Oregon chai - 97.5 mg
Tazo - 70 mg
Pacific chai - 100 mg
Starbucks - 75 mg
So there's a range, and there might be more of a range among brewers who don't use the chai concentrate, but rather make it from scratch (a number of coffee shops, Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants I've been to make it from scratch, and it's delicious).  I also have a feeling that coffee shops that do make it from concentrates don't really measure it, cause I've definitely had ranges of concentrations.

But anyway, the obvious answer is to make it yourself with decaf tea.  The trick is great spices, good tea, and fresh ginger.  I just got a new batch of spices from Savory Spice Shop, and they sure make a difference!  I think especially good, soft, well-crumbled stick cinnamon and cardamom that hasn't been sitting around for a year makes this really good.  The cinnamon may be hard to find.  This recipe is certainly good with some ground cinnamon or hard cassia cinnamon stick, but not quite as good.  I'm giving links in case you want to follow this recipe to a tee, both Adagio and Savory have online ordering!

Ingredients, serves 2
3 t. teaspoons loose leaf decaf black tea
5 cardamom pods, crushed or torn open with your fingernails
3 cloves
1 inch soft Ceylon cinnamon stick, crumbled
1 grind of black pepper
1 heaping t. minced fresh ginger, or about an inch roughly chopped*
1 c. water
2 c. milk or milk substitute
2 T. sugar**
0.25 t. vanilla extract

1.  Combine tea, spices, ginger, and water in a saucepan.  Bring to a simmer, simmer for 3 minutes.
2.  Add in milk and sugar, stir to dissolve sugar, heat to steaming.
3.  Add in vanilla extract.  Strain and serve.

*The pre-minced jarred ginger you can get in a store works well here, I happened to have some, so that's where the 1 heaping teaspoon measure comes from.  I've also made it with sliced or roughly chopped fresh ginger root.  No need to peel.
**Honey and agave syrup are definitely tasty too!  I like plain sugar though.  2 T. makes the drink sweet, but not too sweet.  Less sweet than most chais I've had a coffee shops or restaurants, but it's all a matter of taste.

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