super easy chai latte recipe

I am all about saving money. And I’m all about making things myself, because then I can control what goes in it. Yesterday I experimented with a recipe for my own iced chai latte, and what I came up with was pretty darn close to the yummy beverages from Starbucks, but with less sugar and for much less money.

First, you make your chai tea concentrate. Now, you could get all fancy and make your own chai. You could buy star anise and cardamom pods, steep them with black tea, and then strain the whole thing. You know, if you wanted to. OR you could just use the ready-made chai tea in your kitchen cabinet. Which is what I did, and which is what makes this recipe easy.

4 1/2 cups water

10 Tazo chai tea bags

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 tsp honey

1 tsp vanilla

Bring the water to a boil, and remove from heat. Add tea bags and let steep for 15-20 minutes, depending on how strong you want your concentrate. (Note: I forgot about my tea, and left the bags in for 35 minutes, and I actually quite liked the results. You don’t want a weak concentrate.) Remove the tea bags, and squeeze out the excess water so none of that yummy chai goodness goes to waste. Add 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp honey, and 1 tsp vanilla.

I recommend making a half batch to begin with so you can play around with the sugar amount and not have a whole batch that might potentially be too sweet for your taste. I put in the full amount the first time and it was too sweet for me, but tasted pretty much exactly like the original version. However, the point being to consume less sugar, I will put less in next time, and maybe add a few whole cloves to spice it up even more.

Refrigerate the concentrate till completely chilled, if you want the iced version. Add one part concentrate to one part milk, pour over ice. The concentrate might be strong enough that you can add more milk. I did, because I don’t like milk unless it has something in it, so I need to drink more of it whenever I can.

There you have it! Super easy chai concentrate recipe…and really, the possibilities are endless. I might try to make some ice cream next!


ADDENDUM: Make sure the chai tea you use is really good chai. I bought some the other day and made this recipe again, and it was not the same. I’m sure that there are other brands besides Tazo that have delish chai tea bags, but the ones I found were not. And it makes a big difference. Be warned!


it’s the little things.

Yep. It’s the little things that become too much, on the overwhelming days. The huge life change, you know the one where I now have a daughter who demands a ton of my attention and is here forever and we have the responsibility of raising her and making sure she is a decent, kind, respectful human being? Yeah, that doesn’t really freak me out, most days. Grocery shopping, however. Now that’s overwhelming.

This morning I dropped Matthew off at work so I could have the car. I drove through the downpour to Meijer, where I sat in the parking lot for five minutes, tentatively opened the door, then shut it and drove home. I just couldn’t handle lugging Eliza and her carseat into the store, then back out with bags of groceries, in that deluge.

Like I said, it’s the little things.

the list.

I was never a list maker, growing up. I just didn’t see the appeal. Lists were not especially motivating, nor did they make me feel that much more productive in the end. That changed once I started working at Starbucks three years ago. Actually, a lot of things changed once I started working at Starbucks. I had never used the word “baseboards” nor noticed if they were dirty until I started working for Starbucks. Now a room isn’t clean til I’ve wiped the baseboards down. I don’t do it that often. Therefore the rooms in my apartment are not really clean. But I digress. I am writing about lists, not baseboards.

Once I became a shift supervisor at Starbucks, I became addicted to lists. When I would work the opening shift, the first thing I would do, after counting the money and brewing the first batches of coffee, was make a list of the things we needed to accomplish that day, and an approximate timeline for accomplishing them (lest I lose track and let the day get away from me). And let me tell you, when I got every item on my list checked off, I left that store feeling like a rockstar.

Fast forward a few years. I left Starbucks a little over a year ago, and I had no reason to make lists at my last job. There was no time crunch, no deadline, not really even any important items to put on the list. So I took a sabbatical. I think I’m back, though. See, I have a baby now. This baby eats at two-to-three-to-four-hour intervals during the day, and I live my life from feeding to feeding. That’s fine, but the word “productive”? It’s largely been missing from my vocabulary and my days, since Eliza arrived on the scene. So I’m revisiting my lost love, list-making, and I envision a boost in my level of productivity henceforth.

I mean, how does one decide which household task deserves attention at this moment, while Eliza sleeps for who knows how short an amount of time? How does one determine the hierarchy of chores? Without a list, I dilly and I dally, overwhelmed by the sheer number of little tasks that need my attention. With a list? Well, Friday we do laundry. And that’s that.

the tattoo that got away.

I used to want a quarter-sleeve tattoo. Really. I wanted one really badly. I couldn’t ever quite come up with a design, though…I’m not visually imaginative like that. I knew that if I didn’t hurry up and get this tattoo, the window of opportunity (specifically, plenty of money and no responsibilities) would close and I might regret not getting it…also knowing that if I didn’t wait for the perfect design, I might also regret getting it. So I spent years dreaming of my perfect quarter-sleeve tattoo, and sure enough, the window closed. We moved to Indy, and my $9.58/hr job at Starbucks was paying the rent and buying our food, with sometimes a few bucks left for the savings account after all was said and done.

I don’t really want that quarter-sleeve anymore. At least, not as much as I want to be responsible with our money. But a part of me wishes I could have settled on a design and gotten it years ago when I wouldn’t have felt guilty for spending the money. It’s not strong enough to be called a regret. Just a wish. A sort of sentimental look back at the me of a few years ago. I don’t feel any different, really. It’s just that, when I see pictures, I’ve started being shocked at how skinny I was. I’ve started wishing I could remember how to pull off certain outfits…the great Goodwill skirts that nobody else would wear, or the granny shoes that are awesome. I’ve started missing the girl who took her guitar everywhere and sang every chance she got. The girl who twirled with friends at concerts. And I’m realizing that even though I haven’t changed that much, it seems that after a year of stress and anxiety and (the scary word) depression, I’ve lost sight of some of the things that make me quintessentially me.

This isn’t the beginning of some grand quest to go back in time and find myself. I love where I am. I love being a mom. I think I’ve always had that inside me and it feels great to finally be there. But I need to reawaken some of the other aspects of me and figure out how they fit in this new phase of my life. I owe to Matthew, to Eliza, to me, and to God. I want Eliza to have a singing mom…

And who knows? I think I’ll still probably get a tattoo. Eventually. Just, you know, a smaller one than originally planned. Because I haven’t changed that much. It’s just my circumstances that have.