Homemade Chai Concentrate
I love making this homemade chai concentrate recipe and keeping a bottle of it in my refrigerator.
The recipe is really simple to make and with a batch on-hand, I can whip up a really delicious hot or iced chai latte whenever I want.
For instance, simply combine chai concentrate, milk and ice, and walah you’ve got an iced chai tea latte.
Furthermore, making my own sweet and spicy black tea chai concentrate saves money over the long run.
Of course, I need to initially purchase all the yummy spices like cardamom, cinnamon and cloves, as well as some black tea. But with a grande size Starbucks Chai Latte costing nearly $5, the savings add up quickly.
Popular Chai Concentrate Brands
Obviously, you can also make chai tea drinks at home with store-bought chai concentrate.
My go-to brand is Tazo chai tea concentrate.
Just be careful though, not all chai concentrates are alike. For instance, Trader Joe’s chai concentrate is stronger than Oregon Chai.
Take a look at the chart below.
Oregon Chai recommends combining 1 part chai with 1 part milk to make a latte. Whereas, Trader Joe’s suggests 1 part chai and 2 parts milk.
|Ratio of Concentrate to Milk
|Republic of Tea
Starbucks Chai Concentrate
The chai tea flavor many people are familiar with is Starbucks chai concentrate.
In fact, with about 15,000 Starbucks across the United States, the iconic coffee house is likely responsible for popularizing this blend of sweet and spicy tea across the American landscape.
Actually, since Starbucks chai is so popular, I put together this Guide to Starbucks Chai Drinks.
Similar to masala chai, available throughout India, a Starbucks chai latte is the perfect creamy blend of warm spices and milk.
Eager to replicate Starbucks chai drinks at home, it’s no wonder people ask, “What chai tea concentrate does Starbucks use?”
Unfortunately, Starbucks chai tea concentrate is not available for retail sale. However, you can easily see the blend of spices and ingredients in their chai concentrate on the label below or on the Starbucks hot tea menu.
Which brings me back to my chai concentrate recipe. Another advantage to making a batch of chai at home is that you can adjust the spices and sweetness to your own taste preference.
And if you love the taste of Starbucks chai, now you can see the flavor profile they use.
Homemade Chai Concentrate Ingredients
Homemade chai concentrate is similar to making strong black tea but with the addition of a few spices.
Of course sugar is added to the concentrate, as well.
Ideally, it’s best to infuse the tea using whole spices and loose leaf tea.
For example, use cinnamon sticks instead of ground cinnamon. And use whole cloves in place of ground cloves.
This way the spices can be toasted beforehand to bring out the flavors.
Not to mention, whole spices are easily strained from the chai concentrate. On the other hand, powdered spices will pass through.
- Filtered Water
- Black Tea
- Cinnamon Sticks
- Green Cardamom Pods
- Whole Cloves
- Star Anise
- Black Peppercorns
- Ginger Root
- Vanilla Extract
- Honey (optional)
- Maple Syrup (optional)
- Fennel Seeds
- Crystallized Ginger
- Vanilla Bean
How to Make Chai Concentrate
Like I said before, this chai concentrate recipe is really simple to make.
Here are the basic steps I use to make homemade chai concentrate.
Step 1: Crush the spices.
The first thing you need to do, is crush the whole spices.
Did you know that cracking open the spices releases some of their flavorful oils? Additionally, the cardamom seeds inside their pods are exposed.
To accomplish this, you use a mortar & pestle, the back of a heavy pan or rolling pin. Don’t you love when you really don’t need fancy kitchen gadgets?
Just remember, don’t grind the spices into a powder. Crushing them or a course-grind is all that’s necessary.
Step 2: Toast the spices.
Toasting whole spices opens up their pores and releases their flavor. All you have to do is dry roast them in a pan on the stove for a few minutes or on a tray in the oven for several minutes.
Toast spices to bring out flavor. Toasted Chai Spices
Step 3: Simmer spices in water.
The next step is to put the spices, ginger root and water in a saucepan.
Eventually, the spices and tea leaves will be strained out, so a saucepan with a strainer lid is real handy. However, pouring the concentrate through a sieve works great too.
Go ahead and bring the mixture to a boil. Then, let the spices simmer for at least 5-10 minutes. The longer you steep them, the more infused the water becomes with flavor.
Simmering chai spices. Simmer chai spices without tea at first.
Step 4: Add black tea.
You may be wondering, “why not add the tea the same time as the spices?”
The reason I wait to steep the black tea is because if black tea steeps too long, it becomes bitter. Here you can see some other tips to make black tea properly.
Therefore, to allow the spices to have a chance to infuse in the water, I steep them first, followed by the tea.
So once the spices have steeped, bring the mixture back to a boil. Then stir in the tea (or drop in some tea bags) and remove the pan from heat. Let the tea steep for 5 minutes.
Keep in mind, this recipe is for chai concentrate, so you’ll use at least twice the amount of tea per water compared to making a simple cup of tea.
Additionally, use a bold black tea such as Assam or Ceylon.
English Breakfast tea is fine since it’s usually a blend of strong teas. However, avoid blends like Earl Grey.
The goal is to create a strong chai tea concentrate whose flavors stand out when made into a chai latte full of milk.
Step 5: Strain the chai concentrate.
Now that the water is infused with all the yummy spice and tea flavors, it’s time to strain them out.
All you have to do is slowly pour the chai concentrate through a strainer to catch the spices and tea leaves.
Step 6: Mix in other ingredients.
Finally, add the sugar, vanilla and honey (if desired) to the still-warm tea concentrate.
Give it a good stir until the sugar and honey are dissolved.
Then, let the homemade chai concentrate cool down and store it in the refrigerator.
And the best part is, now you can make a delicious hot or iced chai tea latte whenever you want. Enjoy!
Homemade Chai Concentrate Recipe
- 5 cups filtered water
- 3-4 tablespoons Assam black tea
- 2-3 cinnamon sticks
- 2-3 star anise
- 12 whole cloves
- 8 green cardom pods
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/3 cup chopped ginger root
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
Toast Whole Spices
- Crush whole spices (a course grind is all that's needed) using a mortar and pestle.
- Dry toast spices in a sauce pan over low heat on the stove for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Watch carefully and stir frequently so spices do not burn.
Infuse Water with Spices
- Add all the water, chopped ginger and nutmeg to the saucepan with the spices.
- Bring to a boil and immediately reduce the heat and simmer the spices and water for 5-10 minutes.
Steep the Tea
- After the spices have simmered, return the mixture to a boil and then remove from the heat.
- Stir in the loose tea.
- Let the tea steep for 3-5 minutes. (Note: Do not over steep the tea as this will cause it to become bitter.)
Strain the Chai Concentrate
- As soon as the tea has finished steeping, immediately pour it through a strainer into a large glass bowl or pitcher.
- It's important to have a strainer and bowl ready so the concentrate can be strained as soon as the tea has finished steeping.
Sweeten and Flavor Homemade Chai Concentrate
- While the chai concentrate is warm, add sweeteners of your choice. For example, stir in granulated sugar, dark brown sugar, honey and maple syrup.
- Additionally, stir in vanilla extract.
Cool and Bottle Chai Concentrate
- Let the chai concentrate cool down at room temperature. You can also cool it in the refrigerator but this may cause the tea to become a little cloudy.
- Once the chai tea concentrate has cooled pour it into a glass bottle and store in the refrigerator.
- To make a hot or iced chai tea latte, combine equal portions of the homemade concentrate and milk.
- For an iced chai latte pour chai concentrate into a cup with iced and add milk.
- A hot chai latte is made by warming up the concentrate and pouring steamed milk into it. Some milk foam can be scooped on top, as well.
- The type of milk is optional. 2% dairy milk makes a creamy latte, skim or whole milk, or half and half, some sweetened condensed milk, almond milk, oat milk and more.
This homemade chai concentrate recipe is easily modified by adjusting types and amounts of spices and sweeteners according to your taste preferences.