My favorite kind of chai latte is, really and truly, made from the powdered mix sold by Trader Joe's. Though I won't purchase it from a store, I have grown used to the Oregon Chai that is offered at Crazy Wisdom. (There is also a house-made option, but it takes longer to put together, and I feel bad taking up too much of the tea room's time with my free-while-working beverage (omg I get free tea while I'm working! it's the best job ever!)) I believe Oregon relies on honey as its main sweetener, and I am not a big fan of honey, oddly enough. Trader Joe's uses cane sugar, which I do enjoy immensely.
Even with my love/addiction to Trader Joe's powdered chai latte mix, I have been increasingly frustrated with the small package size. Only 10 cups of chai per container? What's with that crap, Trader Joe's? That's barely enough to keep me going for a week! So I decided to turn to my favorite new resource Pinterest and see if I could find a homemade version that would last longer. It didn't have to be perfect, and I figured if nothing else, it was something for the blog. (And lo, it was so.)
The recipe I decided to follow comes from DIY Natural. Of course, I tweaked it. Simplified, really, but if you want to go as natural as possible, just click that link. I also made it seasonally appropriate. Here are the ingredients I used:
1 3/4 cups powdered non-dairy creamer (because it's all I could find at Meijer)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (imitation)
2 1/2 Tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
First things first, make that sugar vanilla-flavored! This is achieved by thoroughly mixing the 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and 1 1/2 cups of sugar together in a bowl until the sugar is thoroughly moistened. Pour the sugar onto a cookie sheet and wait for it to dry. Or pop that cookie sheet into the oven at 150F for about 10 minutes to speed the drying process because we've got chai to make! The dry sugar will be crunchy and blocky, but brittle, so go ahead and smash it back into granules with a spoon or by hand.
While you are waiting for the yummy vanilla sugar to cool, heat up some water and make yourself a nice hot cuppa tea, preferably black, though if you are into green chai lattes, by all means, make yourself some green tea. (I admit, Starbuck's maccha lattes are pretty tasty, but they are experts and use syrups and other fancy items I don't have in my kitchen.)
In a large mixing bowl, add the spices to the sugar and stir. This will help break up the sugar chunks, too. Then go ahead and pour everything together in the bowl and stir, stir, stir. When it is thoroughly blended, measure two tablespoons of your new masala powdered latte blend into your cup of tea. Stir, and enjoy.
It isn't exactly the creamy goodness I crave from Trader Joe's, but it comes in at around the same cost, and makes almost double the cups of tea. It also didn't taste much like pumpkin pie or pumpkin pie spice, but like vanilla from the vanilla-flavored sugar. The reason I chose to use pumpkin pie spice is mostly because it is a pre-made blend of pretty much the exact same spices that are often added to make masala chai, and not because it would make it taste like pumpkin. I am sure there is a way to add ground dried pumpkin (or something) to make it taste pumpkiny. I may need to investigate this possibility at a later date. In the meantime, I have a good base masala blend to work from.
*If you are confused about my use of the term "masala" because you are picturing a stew-like gravy often served with rice, click here to read about the difference between the terms "curry" and "masala."