Tea lovers, raise your cups.

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.

Chai Tea

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.

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