One evening this week I entered my kitchen to find the end of the world was upon us, and it was clearly starting in MY kitchen. Normally, I am not one to freak out about bugs, spiders, snakes, etc. but this had been a long, tiring, boundary pushing sort of week, and my sanity was already stretched to the breaking point. The memo had been sent, God and I had chatted, and it was clear–nothing more was to happen this week, or I just might have what I commonly refer to as “a moment.” Those moments are not pretty. They may be filled with tears, the weeping and nashing of teeth, and the loss of any semblance of sanity.
I entered my kitchen to find it quite literally swarming and crawling with hundreds of little dark colored bugs. Immediately I felt my skin start to itch as my mind raced. WHAT WAS HAPPENING? Quite literally just 15 minutes earlier I had seen no sign of bug life, and now it felt like I was living through an Old Testament plague (though small in scale). I started stomping bugs while calling my husband and demanding that he come home immediately if he indeed loved me as he claimed. Nothing was at all irrational about my screeching, panicked demands into the phone. Nope, nothing at all. The more I stomped, the quicker they seemed to multiply, and I could feel it coming…the complete loss of my remaining sanity.
Hubby came home in time to find me sitting on the floor crying, laptop in hand, updating my Facebook status. Yeah, totally normal. He may have asked why I should pick now to post to Facebook. Clearly, he did not understand my normalcy! I may have not so calmly retorted through clenched teeth, “Vulnerability and transparency. Have you forgotten that I am all about that? And heaven forbid that I should show just how imperfect our life really can be? Why do you question me, when clearly I am in deep need of prayer because I AM LOSING MY MIND over here.” Yeah, like I said, totally normal.
My husband became my hero and killed all the big bad bugs, and I finished up my cry while I googled the bugs in question. Termites! Mating-looking-for-a-spot-for-a-new-termite-colony termites! Oh, no, not in my kitchen you are not! After realizing what was happening, I decided to find the hole that they were using for entry. And then my brilliance astounded even me—God bless my low income childhood. I decided that duck tape could indeed save the day. Yeah. Duck tape. Don’t judge me. And as my husband mocked me and questioned my sanity over such a choice, he humored me and patched the small hole with duck tape. And, dear reader, much to my vindication, it worked!
Though my spouse has agreed never to question my brillance again—something I wish I could hold him to—I have been feeling the need for a victory in my domestic skills…the need for a little redemption in my otherwise less then stellar week. And so, on my 5th attempt at making the perfectly spiced vanilla chai, I think I have achieved the greatest victory I dare hope for in this area—and a little normalcy—because, really, I am a budding Martha Stewart. (cue laughter) The bonus? It costs far less then $1 a serving. So, without further ado, if you like a sublimely flavored vanilla chai tea, then you have to try out this tasty recipe.
Vanilla Chai Tea Concentrate
8 bags of your favorite black tea
1 tsp. ground cloves
1½ tbsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground ginger
8 cardamon pods (cracked)
2 star anise pods (cracked)
¾ tsp. ground black pepper
2 tbsp. honey
½-¾ c. coconut sugar, to taste
4½ c. water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
First, measure out all of the spices into a large pot. I found that using mostly ground spices really helped to enhance the flavor of the tea.
Then, over medium-low heat gently message those tasty spices and warm them up for their adventure. Not only will this make your house smell like an overly priced Yankee candle, but it will help make the concentrate taste even yummier. (usually 2-3 minutes)
Add water and stir.
Throw in the tea bags, sugar, and honey. Let them all mingle and become good friends until things get too heated (boiling). Once it has started to boil, cover and turn off the burner. Let steep for 10 minutes.
Now pour the whole tasty mess into a strainer that you have lined with a cheese cloth. This step removes the gritty taste that leaving all those ground spices in would give you…don’t ask how I know, just trust me. You can rinse out the cheese cloth, boil it in water for 15 minutes, (or you can totally forget it is boiling on the stove, boil all the water out and almost catch the remaining cheese cloth on fire) and reuse or you can just throw it away and buy a new one for the next time.
Now gently stir in the crowning glory of this drink…the vanilla.
Store in a glass container in the fridge for up to a week. Mix concentrate with equal parts of your favorite milk (my favorite is half almond milk by Silk and half coconut milk). Sprinkle with a bit o’ cinnamon and enjoy!