Gifts a Go-Go: Homemade Chai Tea Mix and So Much More

Zooming. That’s what it feels like right now. Zooming towards the holiday at record breaking speed. Here’s a little slideshow of what I’ve been doing the last two weeks instead of posting sooner!

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So you see, I really haven’t been ignoring anyone, just kinda busy…honestly. But then, who isn’t? So you deserve a new recipe and here it is.

I have a new gift item literally in the “mix” this year. It’s a wonderful smelling and tasting Chai Tea Mix to make and give to friends, or as a great hostess gift. It’s really an easy gift to put together, makes a seasonally colorful mixture and is endlessly customizable to suit your tastes. I’ve used a warming blend of spices that I’m particularly fond of, along with some fresh orange zest and candied ginger. Simply toast your spices, crush them to release their essence and toss with caffeinated or decaf black tea leaves and chopped candied ginger. Or you can try using an herbal tea leaf of your choice—the experimenting is up to you. I like to tie on a pretty little tea ball for brewing, or some tea bags to be filled as desired by the recipient. Here are the steps and recipe, and you can click on any image for a step by step slideshow.

Chai Tea Mix
Makes 4 pint jars full, about 12 cups of tea per jar

56 green cardamom pods, split in half with sharp knife, use pods and seeds
2 teaspoons whole red peppercorns
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
4 Tablespoons whole fennel seeds
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
2 teaspoons whole cloves
9 – 5 inch cinnamon sticks
4 teaspoons fresh orange zest, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped candied ginger
2 cups loose leaf black tea, I used English Breakfast

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the cardamom pods and seeds, red peppercorns, black peppercorns, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, cinnamon sticks and orange zest into two pie tins or on a cookie sheet, and toast them in the oven until they become fragrant and lightly toasted, about 5-8 minutes. Watch them carefully after 5 minutes. Remove the spices from the oven. Crush the cinnamon stick with a mortar and pestle or in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, until you have small bits but not powder, and add to a large mixing bowl. Lightly crush the remaining spices to release their essence either by mortar and pestle or rolling pin…again, you don’t want powder, just smaller pieces. Add the spices to the cinnamon, along with the candied ginger and tea, and mix well to blend. Transfer the tea mix to your jars or decorative bags.

Directions: To brew one cup of tea (and I put these brewing instructions on my tags on the jars), place one heaping tablespoon of the mix into a tea ball or empty tea bag (these can be purchased at cooking specialty stores or online, or you can make them out of coffee filters), and place into a mug. Add 1 cup of boiling water and steep for 5 minutes. Add warm milk (about 1/4 cup or to taste to start) then sweeten with sugar or honey, if desired. Enjoy!

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I’ll have some more great gift ideas and new items before the big holiday, at which point I will take a rest for a week to enjoy the season and spend time with family and friends.

In the mean time, please check out these links below to find the recipes for items in the slideshow that I’ve made already, and for more food gift ideas that I’ve made and previously posted on this blog. And be sure to take the time to have a cup of tea, de-stress and enjoy the season.

These are a classic!

These are a classic!

Drop Sugar Cookies and

IMG_20111224_170012_edit0Old Fashioned Ice Box Cookies
are two old tried and true recipes I love.

Then I had to make some of those addictive red pepper and fennel glazed almonds.

Then I had to make some of those addictive red pepper and fennel glazed almonds.

Red Pepper and Fennel Glazed Almonds

biscottiA-1Chocolate, Hazelnut and Ginger Biscotti
(If I make nothing else, I make these every year and I’d be in the doghouse if I didn’t!)

wholeplateRetro Cheese Olive Bites
These are great to make ahead and freeze and so are the
Bacon Wrapped Dates with Apricots and Pistachios!

bottles2Cranberry Liqueur

olives4Provençal Olives

All dressed up and ready to give!

All dressed up and ready to give!

Walnut Thyme Honey

Maamool 4Ma’amool Cookies 

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48 thoughts on “Gifts a Go-Go: Homemade Chai Tea Mix and So Much More

    • Hi Linda and thanks so much for your lovely compliment. I love pottery and am so happy to be doing it again! 🙂 This smell of those spices toasting is maddeningly wonderful. I wish I could have my house smell like that all the time.

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    • Hi Norma, the show is still going on through December 17 and I am just a small part of it. But, I think it’s doing well thus far, thanks. The artichoke squares are coming! 🙂 Hope you’re having a good week so far.

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  1. Good Lord, Betsy! I need a nap just seeing all these fabulous goodies you’ve created! I’m now rethinking some things for the wedding reception I’m catering on the 20th- especially the olived and bacon wrapped dates. I’d love the recipe for the artichoke bars- a much better choice than the dip as the home has white carpeting! Merry Christmas to you and David, my dear friend!

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  2. Pingback: Making your own Chai | Asia Cup of Tea

  3. Wow – I’m wondering how you have time to to sleep!
    I loved this post – great recipes & terrific photos!! (I paid for an ‘upgrade’ here on WordPress but haven’t even looked into what I can do with it. I’m assuming I should be able to have a ‘slide show’ like you do here. I hope so!! )
    Everything you’ve made looks wonderful & delicious. I’m so amazed and impressed with everything you’ve done!! And how great this post is!!

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    • Hi Cecile! Thank you so much. Well, I’ve had some long days, that’s for sure. Of course I haven’t made every single thing that I have listed on this post, just the ones in the slideshow so far, but I’m not done yet! 🙂 BTW, you can make a slideshow without the upgrade. When you got to upload your images just click “create a gallery” then once you have the images uploaded, there’s a drop down menu on the right that allows you to make mosaics, squares, circles or a slideshow. You can look up the tutorial on WP’s website.

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  4. A wonderful post, Betsy, with so many thoughtful gift ideas. I, too, give homemade gifts at Christmas. This year, there will be the usual ketchup & brown mustard, but I’ll be adding relish and a couple liqueurs, as well. My liqueur-free friends will get jams. Your chai tea sounds wonderful. I should make discreet inquiries and see if any would like some. I could always include a jar in their baskets — and save the jam for me. 🙂

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    • Thank you for your kind words, John. What liqueurs do you make? I know that all of your recipients will be thrilled with their baskets….I would be! And the chai is so easy to whip up if you need another item. I’m actually behind this year, but after the year we’ve had I’m just going to do what I can and not worry about it! 🙂

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      • You are very welcome, Betsy. You’ve had a tough year. Don’t stress out over the holidays. Your family and friends will certainly understand. This year, I made limoncello using Meyer lemons and “orange-cello” using blood oranges. I also made cherry liqueur using sour cherries. I’ll blog about them once I give them to friends at Christmas. Don’t want to spoil the surprise. 😉

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  5. That’s a great looking Chai tea mix. I can imagine how well it smells as it’s brewing. I know what you mean about us hurtling towards the finish line at breakneck speed. I’m so concerned about how I’m going to get everything done in the next two weeks – but I’m guessing I’m not alone! xx

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    • Hey Charlie Louie! Yes, I feel the same way, but am just going to let some things slide this year and not worry. I’ve had too much on my plate and am trying to remember that it’s about the people and not about the stuff. Still, I’ll be working on making stuff right up to the point that I can’t anymore. 😉 You’re definitely not alone!

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  6. I love the look of the tea mix Betsy. I had a bad experience with chai tea… I had a shot of this chai tea syrup flavouring in some coffee once (yeah, I don’t know why I asked for it in coffee) and it was utterly revolting. It had this terrible burnt flavour. Maybe the syrup was bad or something. I was looking through the ingredients you mentioned and there’s nothing which might bring such a flavour, although of course there’s a difference between a tea mix and a syrup used for flavouring drinks… well, anyway, your version looks nice at least. Lovely gift idea too – so pretty. I bet the recipients will be so pleased!

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    • Hi Charles, Happy Holidays! I have to confess that chai and coffee doesn’t sound too good to me. But this tea is very light especially because I made it with breakfast tea. It’s not heavy like some purchased chai mixes or pre-made teas, and of course it doesn’t have any powder residue because all the seeds and barks are not pulverized. I think you might like it! 🙂 I hope the recipients will. They will start delivering this coming week. Hope all is well in Sweden. I need to come and check on you and yours.

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  7. I love the idea of making a chai tea mix! I think it is the perfect gift to give…and receive. I’ll have to stash the idea for next year. This year we are making jars of caramel sauce for some of the teachers and sewing little cell phone pouches for others. It’s so fun to give homemade gifts.

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    • Thank you, and I’m glad you like the idea. I have to say that we’ve been enjoying a lot of this tea ourselves, too! Now I love your ideas of both the caramel sauce and the cell phone pouches…how clever and cute! It makes me want to consider something like that for giving next year so thanks for the exchange of ideas. 🙂 I hope your holidays are wonderful!

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  9. Chai tea mix sounds lovely. For you the gift giving and holiday craze is over but here in China, the craziness known as Chinese New Years is about to commence. I would much rather give away tea than a “red packet” Have a super day. BAM

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  10. Pingback: New Year Baking: Pear, Candied Ginger and Walnut Quick Bread | bits and breadcrumbs

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  12. My granddaughter is visiting and she only recently mentioned that she liked chai tea. I’m going to print up your recipe and try it out. Will let you know how it went.

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  13. Pingback: Gifts, Goodies and Greatest Hits | bits and breadcrumbs

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