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iced vegan chai latte

Apparently mother nature wants to keep us at home. We’ve received her message loud and clear. Just this weekend, Los Angeles turned into a walk-in sauna with temperatures reaching a blistering 121°F/50°C in Woodland Hills. Even if we wanted to step outside during this record-breaking heatwave (we didn’t), we would need hi-tech space suits to keep our skin from spontaneously bursting into flames. And if these weren’t enough reasons to keep us inside, enter the recent wildfires spreading across the state of California, coating our blue skies in an unhealthy orange haze, complete with smoky air and falling ashes. Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t dip any lower… but let’s all take a deep breath. The Husbands are here to help, and today we are sharing something that will ease your mind and cool your scorched soul. Please welcome your new summer savior… Iced Vegan Chai Latte.

If you’ve never made your own Chai, you’re in for a treat. This easy recipe is here to transform your kitchen into an aromatic paradise. Fresh spices are crushed by hand and briefly toasted until warm and fragrant, then steeped in water blended with the milk of your choice. We like to use almond or cashew milk which gives the tea an extra creaminess. Simmered with a cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, peppercorns, black tea, and fresh ginger, this robust beverage can be enjoyed throughout the year, hot or cold. In our version, we chill this magic potion, then gently pour it over ice and top it with a velvety coconut cream that’s lightly sweetened and flavored with vanilla. This attractive layered drink is a refreshing way to beat this never-ending heat spell, and a delicious way to keep cool.

Iced Vegan Chai Latte
Makes about 4 1/2 cups

For the tea:
1 cinnamon stick
6 to 8 cardamom pods
2 cloves
4 black peppercorns
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups (591 ml) water
2 1/2 cups (591 ml) non-dairy milk of your choice
5 black tea bags, tags and strings removed, if necessary
3 to 5 tablespoons granulated sugar, to taste (see note)

For the coconut cream topping:
1 cup (237 ml) canned coconut milk, stirred until smooth
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 to 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

To make the tea:
First, crush the whole spices—this can be done using a mortar and pestle, or by placing the spices in a ziplock bag and crushing them with a heavy object such as a rolling pin. Either way, crush the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, and black peppercorns coarsely until broken into pieces—they do not need to be ground into powder.

Transfer the crushed spices to a dry medium saucepan, and place over medium-low heat. Stirring often, toast the spices until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chopped ginger and water, and stir to combine. Raise heat to high, cover the pan, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cook covered for 10 minutes. Then add the milk and tea bags, and stir to combine. Return to a boil, then cover the pan, reduce heat as low as possible, and cook covered at a bare simmer for 4 minutes, lifting the lid and stirring occasionally to prevent the milk from foaming excessively. Then turn off heat and let the tea steep covered for 5 minutes.

Pour the tea into a heatproof container using a fine-mesh strainer to remove the spices and tea bags. Add the sugar to the hot tea and stir to dissolve, adding more to taste if desired. Cover and keep refrigerated until ready to serve, up to one week (see note). Some settling will occur, so stir well before use.

To make the coconut cream topping:
In a small bowl, whisk together the canned coconut milk, vanilla, and sugar until smooth and creamy. Taste for sweetness and adjust if needed. Use immediately or transfer to a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week. If refrigerating, allow the topping to warm to room temperature before serving, as coconut milk solidifies in the fridge.

To serve:
Fill a serving glass with several ice cubes. Pour over the chilled tea, leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top of the glass. Gently pour over the coconut cream topping, forming a layer on top. Serve immediately and enjoy!

notes:
— For the sugar, the sweetness level is a matter of personal preference. While we enjoy this recipe with the full 5 tablespoons, we recommend starting with 3 tablespoons and adding more to taste.
— After preparing the hot tea, it will take several hours to chill in the fridge. However, this process can be sped up considerably by using an ice bath. Place the container of tea in a wide mixing bowl. Arrange ice cubes around the container, then fill the bowl with enough water to submerge the sides of the container, making sure not to spill any water in the tea. Stir the tea until cooled, about 5 to 15 minutes, adding more ice to the bath if needed, then serve and enjoy!