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For me, savoring a fancy coffee or tea is the ultimate form of self care. It’s how I start every single morning—my way of putting myself first before the demands of others start claiming my attention (and filling up my inbox).

One of the easiest ways to get all fancy with your morning bev is with chai concentrate, a black tea brewed with warming spices that’s ready to be mixed with your fave alt-milk. One of my faves is Dona Chai‘s masala chai, a small-batch concentrate made in Brooklyn that’s brewed with cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and black peppercorn. Every single ingredient is organic and direct trade (bought straight from farmers).

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Dona Chai co-founder Amy Rothstein says chai concentrate uses extend far beyond latte-making. “Dona was created for a morning latte, but quickly revealed itself as an ever-so-useful pantry staple,” she says. Here, she shares three unexpected ways to use it.

3 creative uses for chai tea concentrate

1. Pancakes

Rothstein says that one of her favorite ways to cook with chai concentrate is to work it right into her pancake batter. Try her personal recipe below, which makes about 10 to 12 fluffy pancakes. The cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and other warming spices will come through in every bite.

Ingredients
2 cup flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup Dona Masala Chai
2 eggs (cracked and mixed)
3 Tbsp melted butter

1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Make a well in the center. In a liquid measuring cup, combine two cups buttermilk with a half cup Dona Chai. Pour the buttermilk and chai mixture into the well of the dry ingredients, add the two eggs and melted butter. Working from the center of the well, gradually whisk wet and dry to combine, be careful not to over mix. The batter should have small to medium lumps.

2. Heat a non-stick pan, cast iron pan, or griddle on medium-high heat until a few drops of water sprinkled on bounce off. Grease the pan with butter or oil.

3. Using a four-ounce ladle, pour pancake batter onto the pan, keeping at least two inches between pancakes. When the pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around the edges, flip them over and cook for about two and a half minutes. Cook until golden. Repeat with the remaining batter.

2.  Poached pears

“Poached pears are a fancy classic,” Rothstein says. Even though they look pinkies out, she swears that they’re simple to make.

All you need besides two pears and two cups of the chai concentrate is a pinch of sea salt and a teaspoon of orange zest. Combine everything except the pears in a medium saucepan on medium heat, until the liquid comes to a simmer. Then, add in the pears (peeled and halved), coating them with the liquid, and cooking until they’re tender. That’s literally it! Put ’em on a plate and enjoy as is, or add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

3. Chai Manhattan

If you’re like me, you already use the chai concentrate for a little pick-me-up in the morning, so why not end the day the same way? Rothstein shares this recipe for a chai Manhattan that only takes a minute to make.

Ingredients
1.5 oz bourbon
1 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 oz chai concentrate
2 dashes orange bitters
1 brandied cherry

1. Add all the bourbon (or rye), sweet vermouth, chai, and bitters to a mixing glass with ice, and stir until well-chilled.

2.Strain into a chilled coupe.

3. Garnish with a brandied cherry.

Chai concentrate uses truly extend to anything you want to add a layer of warming flavors to. Rothstein encourages experimenting with it in other recipes, included baked goods and chia puddings.

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