I got a red Hamilton Beach slow cooker, courtesy of my parents, at Walmart on Thanksgiving night (what crowd-phobic Tess Stockslager–I mean, Penelope Clearwater–was doing at Walmart on that night of all nights is another story for another time), but I had not used it until this past Saturday. Since then, I’ve used it three times with great success. One of those successes was a chai tea much more flavorful than that weak stuff you get in coffee shops (there’s a reason they’re not called tea shops). I got the recipe from a cookbook simply titled Crock-Pot: The Original Slow-Cooker–Recipe Collection (2008), but I made a few adjustments. For example, I couldn’t find whole cardamom seeds at the grocery store, so I used a teaspoon of the ground stuff (thanks, Charity). The other adjustments were similar. To enhance flavor, I used as many different varieties of tea as I could: Earl Grey, Lady Grey, English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, Yorkshire Gold (thanks, Allison), and a tea that was already flavored as vanilla chai.
2 quarts (8 cups) water
5 cinnamon sticks
8 bags black tea
8 slices fresh ginger
3/4 cup sugar
16 whole cloves
16 whole cardamom seeds, pods removed (optional)
1 cup milk
1. Combine water, tea bags, sugar, cloves, cardamom, cardamom, cinnamon sticks and ginger in 4 1/2-quart slow cooker. Cover; cook on HIGH 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
2. Strain mixture; discard solids. (At this point, tea may be covered and refrigerated up to 3 days.)
3. Stir in milk just before serving. Serve warm or chilled.