A Cup of Chai

There is something about a warm mug of tea hugged between one’s two hands…


I don’t know, it just makes me think happy thoughts. Fluffy down comforter, flickering flames in the wood stove and a book that pulls you into the story page by page (notice I didn’t say swipe by swipe of the finger tip ;)  – those are the welcome companions of a cup of tea.

That, and a dash of milk, a smidgen of honey and some whipped cream, of course.

Not to mention the heavenly smell of spices wafting through the house.

Have I talked you into a cup of Chai?


Toss your choice of the following into a sauce pan:

  • freshly grated ginger
  • pepper corns
  • cinnamon sticks
  • whole cloves
  • whole cardamom pods
  • a vanilla bean, sliced in half
  • whole allspice
  • star anise
  • black tea leaves

Add about 6 cups of water.


Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for an hour or two.

Strain into a mug.


Add some milk and enough honey or sugar or maple syrup to bring out the spicy flavors. It’s a lovely color isn’t it?


Top with whipped cream and sip ever so slowly.


You may store the rest in a jar for later. Keep the spices in the liquid for more intense flavor.


If you could have a good hour on a rainy day with a warm beverage and a book, what would you drink?

Double points for telling us what you would read as well!



The Other Fizzy Beverage: Kombucha

With cold and flu season in full swing, it’s a good idea to give your immune system an extra boost with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals found in foods and beverages. The kombucha beverage is teaming with live probiotics and healthy amino-acids that aid in detoxifying the body and fight off disease.


I’ve tried making kombucha off and on over the years, but it wasn’t until I bought my brew bottles for water kefir that I finally made a batch that I enjoyed as much as the store bought variety. The drinks you get at the store are highly priced, so brewing your own kombucha at home is a great alternative. Not only do you get all the benefits of kombucha tea for a fraction of the price, but the kombucha SCOBY is actually the “mother of vinegar” as well. You know that Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar you see on the shelf at the health food store for 5 bucks a bottle? Well, you can make that at home using the same yeast culture you use for kombucha tea. How cool is that?

The Konbucha culture is also called a Manchurian mushroom, although it is not a mushroom as all since it doesn’t produce spores. 


My store jar. When I’m not using my SCOBY I keep it in the frig covered with kombucha tea. Some people don’t recommend that, but it works for me since I don’t brew constantly.

The “mushroom” or SCOBY can be describe as a light brown or creamy white disk that grows on top of the liquid tea/sugar mixture and will take the form of the container that is in, which is why most look circular in the pictures you may see.  Again, it is not a mushroom at all, but really a yeast culture that has a symbiotic relationship with various bacteria, which duplicates itself during each brewing cycle.  The correct name for the “mushroom” is a S.C.O.B.Y – a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.  The culture may look fragile, however, it is really thick and leathery in consistency.  The finished brewed tea should be regarded principally as a live food unusually rich in nutritive properties. The finished fermented product taste something like cider with a nice fizz.  As with yogurt or miso, the bacteria and cultures in the tea are a great source of nutrition, aiding in metabolic function and balance. ~ Organic-Kombucha.com

You can buy your own SCOBY online at places like KombuchaKamp.com or Organic-Kombucha.com . Better yet, if you know someone who makes their own kombucha consistently, you can get one from them!

Here’s my step by step recipe for kombucha…

Boil about 2 cups of water and one cup sugar. Add 4-6 black tea bags in order to create a very concentrated tea. (All other recipes I’ve read require one to boil ALL the water in the recipe and then cool completely before adding the SCOBY, but I haven’t found that necessary using pure water and clean tools.)


Press tea bags with the back of a spoon to extract more tea goodness, then discard the bags.

Pour tea into a gallon glass jar and top it off with fresh water leaving a couple inches from the top of the jar. Add the SCOBY and about 1/2 c. purchased or brewed kombucha from a previous batch.


I used to make mine in a Pyrex glass bowl, so the SCOBY is way too big for this jar. However, the SCOBY that grows off of a large (or small) one will conform to the size jar you use.

Cover with a cloth, or coffee filter and use a rubber band to secure.


Now you just put it on a dark shelf out of the way for about 7 days.


Here’s my kombucha tea keeping my water kefir company in the pantry.

After a full week is up, you can taste it to see how it’s coming along. It should have a sweet vinegar taste, but not too sweet. If it’s too sweet for you, leave it to brew a couple more days. The longer you leave it, the more sour it will get.


The finished batch with the new SCOBY fitting the jar perfectly. You can leave the “baby” SCOBY attached to the “mother” for several new batches to make it stronger, or detach for other brews.

If it tastes right to you, you may add some flavor and bottle it tightly to create fizz.

Ginger Kombucha is one of my favorite flavors.


Just shred a couple inches of ginger and add it to the finished brew. Let seep for about an hour, strain (this step is optional) and bottle.


I also like using fresh lemon juice for flavor, but you can bottle it without any flavor as well.


Store the bottled kombucha in the pantry for a couple more days before transferring to the refrigerator. Enjoy with meals for better digestion, or by itself as a refreshing beverage.

Want to know more about kombucha?  Check out these websites –

Precision Nutrition – All About Kombucha


The Fascination of Kombucha

Robb Wolf – Crazy about Kombucha

Questions or comments? Feel free to contact me through the comment section or at sarahrn (at) inbox (dot) com. I’d love to hear from you!

Making Your Own Fizzy Drinks – Water Kefir

This summer a friend gave me some water kefir grains, also known as tibicos, to try. Ever since then I’ve been experimenting and researching and experimenting again to discover the perfect brew. For those of you who are new to … Continue reading