When I set the January category of my 2015 Cooking Challenge to be slow cooker recipes, I had entrées in mind. But then my sister-in-law, Kalyn, got to raving about this Slow Cooker Chai Tea recipe, and I decided I had to try it as part of my slow-cooker month.
This weekend was the perfect one to try out the chai tea. I have a three-day weekend thanks to the local stock show (closing the schools for such an event is just one of the perks of small town living), which gives me more time for cooking and blogging. Plus, it’s January. It’s cold – even in Texas. What’s better than a warm cup of creamy, spicy tea on a chilly day?
Since returning from our week-long stay at my parents’ house in DFW for Christmas, we have not made it to Fredericksburg for a proper grocery shopping trip at HEB. Therefore, we’ve been getting by with the Walmart in Brady and Lowe’s Market here in Mason. (This would not be one of the perks of small town living.) I managed to track down whole cloves and peppercorns, as well as a cheesecloth, but I could not find cardamom pods. The ground cardamom I already had in my pantry would have to suffice. But as soon as I poured in the water, the cardamom immediately escaped the cheesecloth bag and floated about the slow cooker insert. Oh, well.
I had decided to simmer the chai tea overnight so that it would be ready first thing on Friday morning. The creator of the recipe commented on how wonderful the “sweet and spicy aroma” of the chai tea was, and she was right. It made our whole house smell fantastic, but it was rather odd to be enveloped by this aroma in the middle of the night.
After 8 hours on low, the water had been infused with the spices in the bag and had turned a dark brown:
I steeped the black tea bags for 4 minutes and then stirred in the sweetened condensed milk. Now the tea was smooth and creamy.
Upon first taste, I was slightly disappointed. Kalyn’s praise of the recipe had heightened my expectations, so I had anticipated love at first sip. It was good, but not out-of-this-world good. John agreed – the tea reminded him of the Keurig Chai Latte we had tried once. Yet I drank 2 cups of it on Friday morning and another 2 cups today. It’s a solid recipe – at least 3 stars. I wonder if using cardamom pods instead of ground cardamom would make a difference, or if steeping the tea bags longer than 4 minutes would deepen the flavor of it. I may just have to give it another try sometime in order to find out!