Apples and chai spices are a likely combination and work gloriously, especially when enjoyed in front of a fire. Add 2 tablespoons to a cup of boiled water for a drink that warms you. Add 1 tablespoon whiskey for a makeshift hot toddy that also warms you — perhaps even a bit more. Process these jars in a water bath to preserve the goodness for gifting all year.
My preferred chai tea is a high-quality assam black tea seasoned with ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper, and cloves. Use a loose-leaf tea for this recipe; bags always seem like a convenient idea, but in practice, they tear apart during the simmering.
I make this syrup in the fall when the cider is flowing readily from local apples, and water-bath preserve it for year-round gifting. This thickish syrup separates a bit once it sits, but a good shake brings it back together.
4 cups (32 ounces) apple cider
1/4 cup loose chai tea leaves
1 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
Glass bottles or jars with airtight lids, sterilized
Place the apple cider and chai tea in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and let boil until the liquid is concentrated and reduced by half, about 30 minutes.
Strain out the chai tea through the cheesecloth and return the cider to a cleaned saucepan. Add the sugar to the cider and boil over medium-high heat until dissolved, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Let the syrup cool at room temperature before bottling. Strain it through a coffee filter 1 or 2 times to remove any extra tea or spice bits for the cleanest presentation before transferring it to jars or bottles.
The syrup can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week or canned in a water bath and stored unopened for up to 6 months in a dark pantry.
Gift Wrap Option
Glass bottle with airtight lid
Wax and wax sealer (optional)
Transfer the syrup to a clean, pretty bottle. Wipe the rim and seal. Lay the bottle on its side. Place a length of ribbon across the neck of the bottle. Light a wax stick (if using) to drip over the meeting spot of the ribbon and press the sealer (if using) into the hot wax to form an imprint.
Alternatively, make a seal on a separate piece of paper and adhere it to the bottle with a touch of glue or tape.
Text excerpted from Food Gift Love, © 2015 by Maggie Battista. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.