Surely I'm breaking some food blogger code by saying this, but I'm just not that into all the "Pumpkin Spice" stuff that pops up in the fall. Mostly because "Pumpkin Spice" isn't an actual flavor. I get it - its much easier to call your product "Pumpkin Spice" than it is to say "Cinnamon, Clove, and Nutmeg Spiced" or even "Fall Spice". Wait, I take that back - "Fall Spice" is easier and more descriptive.
I should clarify that I do like spiced things, and I do like pumpkin things, heck I even like pumpkin pie things. More importantly I love chai flavored things. If you remember I've written about chai spiced things before with these Chai Spiced Snickerdoodles.
Chai tea, as you've not doubt seen in coffee and tea shops, is a spiced black tea more accurately known as Masala chai or "Spiced tea". Traditionally brewed with black tea and flavored with ginger, cardamom, and served sweetened; Chai tea can also be infused with cinnamon, black pepper, star anise, clove, even coriander.
My favorite combination is cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, all spice, clove, pepper, and vanilla, a combination that is also a lovely partner with apple cider.
Chai Spiced Apple Cider
makes 8 servings
1 quart apple cider
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon green cardamom seeds or 8 whole cardamom pods, smashed
8 whole cloves
8 whole black peppercorns
8 whole all-spice berries
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon loose black tea or the contents from 2 black tea bags.
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine the apple cider and brown sugar in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
While the cider is toast the cardamom seeds, cloves, peppercorns and allspice in a small cast iron pan over medium heat until fragrant. Remove from the heat an break-up the spices using either a mortar and pestle or a rolling pin. The spices don't need to uniform or smashed to smithereens - just broken up to release their flavors.
Add the toasted and smashed spices to the cider along with the cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, ginger and salt. Once the mixture has come to boil, remove from the heat, cover and steep for 1 hour.
Strain the mixture and serve warm. A little bourbon doesn't hurt either.