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optimal method for steeping or infusing spices?

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i've been trying to make a spicy chai base to have on hand, adding milk and sometimes a small amount of honey only as i prepare it up to a few days later. i've tried varying lengths of time boiling/simmering/steeping the spices before and after steeping the tea, but the spice flavor is not coming through. i'm using whole spices and fresh sliced ginger.

what is the best way to get flavor out of spices?

i'm pretty sure my spices, though recently purchased, are not as fresh as they should be, but the ginger is--i'm not getting a strong ginger flavor either. i've noticed that lots of chai recipes include milk and sweetener from the start, so i'm wondering if sugar helps absorb the flavor?

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