Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte

Pumpkin spice lattes have officially hit every coffee shop and cafe here in Seattle and while I love the warming and spicy flavors of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, and allspice, I often find that pumpkin spice drinks are just way too sweet for my taste. I'll call it the Starbucks effect. So my solution, of course, was to make my own (this is my solution for a lot of things, some of which turn out well and others do not...). But this recipe turned out very well and it's one that I'll be making again throughout fall and maybe even into winter. Or at least until it gets too cold and rainy and then only mulled wine will suffice. Anyway, I hope you try this delicious and only slightly sweet pumpkin spice chai latte because it is truly a necessary part of fall. Trust me. 

// Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte // makes 8 cups
You'll want to make a full batch of this pumpkin spice chai latte to keep in the fridge for cold mornings or cozy afternoons. If you don't have the space, though, or you're not as much of a pumpkin spice fan as I am, you can halve the recipe. Also feel free to play around with the spices and sweetness until you find a balance that works for you. 

8 cups whole milk or milk of your choice
1/4 cup maple syrup

3 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon whole allspice
1 tablespoon cardamom pods
1 whole nutmeg, cut into quarters
2 teaspoons whole cloves
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons loose black tea
1 inch knob fresh ginger, cut into rounds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, whisk together milk and maple syrup. Gently heat over medium-low heat until milk is just simmering - don't let boil! 

2. While milk is heating, place all spices (cinnamon through ginger) in either a mesh bag (like a nut milk bag or vegetable storage bag) or in the center of some cheesecloth. Cinch bag closed or tie ends of cheesecloth together and place spices in milk along with vanilla and salt. Turn heat to low and let steep for 45-50 minutes or more, depending on taste preference

3. Remove and discard spices. Serve chai hot with a dollop of steamed milk or whipped cream and a zest of freshly grated nutmeg