If you have stumbled upon this page, you are likely a Starbucks chai tea latte fan. Perhaps you are looking for a dupe or just want to make your own (better) version of the iconic drink. Either way, you are at the right place.
First off, what is a chai concentrate?
Homemade chai concentrate is nothing but strong black tea flavored with spices. It is, as the name suggests, a concentrated version of chai tea. The trick is to brew it in advance and store it in the refrigerator for a quick pick-me-up. To make the drink, all you do is dilute the concentrate with hot milk, water, or ice.
Homemade vs store-bought chai concentrate
You might ask, though, why make my own if I can just get it off the shelf? Good question. Here are a few good reasons that might convince you to make your homemade chai concentrate instead of using a store-bought one.
- Let’s talk money. Most chai concentrates available in the market are overpriced, especially considering how easily they can be made at home. Typically, one cup of tea made using a homemade chai concentrate costs less than $1. This number will go up to at least $2, if not more when using a bottled concentrate. If you are a Starbucks chai tea latte fan, you are probably knocking off about $4 a drink. That’s a whopping $50 a month, assuming you indulge in it thrice a week.
- I find that most ready-made chai concentrates have an imbalance of flavors (and a ton of added sugar like the ones sold at Costco). On the other hand, a homemade chai concentrate allows you an almost infinite number of customizations. If you like a spicy tea, throw in some extra pepper and cloves; prefer it sweeter—no problem, add extra cinnamon and sugar. The possibilities are endless. Your homemade chai concentrate is 100% customizable. All you need are a handful of spices and seasonings and about 20 minutes.
- This recipe should be your go-to concoction if you like impressing friends and family with thoughtful presents. All you need are a couple of glass bottles and pretty labels, and you have just made the perfect fall/winter season present. It’s cheap and easy, and you are bound to make quite an impression.
- Lastly, all store-bought concentrates use preservatives to increase their shelf life. While this is useful if you want to keep your concentrate for long, it also means pumping your body with unnecessary chemicals. Also, I guarantee that once you try this homemade chai concentrate, you will no longer have to rush to pick up bottles from your supermarket shelf.
Ingredients for a chai concentrate
Three basic ingredients make an epic homemade chai concentrate.
- Tea: Naturally, you need some good quality tea. Remember that this is a black tea concentrate, so I recommend using a strong Assam or Ceylon tea. You could get away with an English Breakfast tea in a pinch, but mild teas like earl grey or green teas won’t take you far. I also recommend using loose tea leaves over teabags.
- Spices: You can’t have a chai latte without a few spices. You can easily customize this recipe based on your personal preferences. Feel free to use three or even ten! Ginger, green cardamom, and cloves make up the holy trinity of spices in a tea concentrate, but you can always add more if you want.
|Ginger||Star anise||Vanilla bean|
|Green cardamom||Black peppercorns||Dried edible rose petals|
|Cloves||Fennel seeds||Crystallized ginger|
- Sweetener: If you want to add sweetness to your chai concentrate, you can do so with plain white sugar or opt for healthier alternatives like honey, stevia, or natural maple syrup. This step is optional; you can always keep your homemade chai concentrate unsweetened. This is a good idea if you are making a chai concentrate for a party. Just keep your sweeteners on the side so your guests can serve themselves.
Tips to make a perfect homemade chai concentrate
- For a stronger spice flavor, you can lightly roast your dry spices. This is an optional step, but it helps release the spices’ natural oils, leading to a more robust chai concentrate. But remember, only dry spices—you never roast fresh herbs like ginger or ingredients like vanilla beans and rose petals.
- Once your spices are all nice and toasty (assuming you have followed that step), it is time to give them a quick pound in a mortar pestle. Don’t have one? No problem. Just use a heavy blunt object instead. You don’t need a fine powder—just a few pounds here, and there will do the job nicely.
- Bear in mind that this recipe is for a concentrate. You will not be straight-up drinking this concoction. Since you will dilute it with ice, water, or some form of dairy, it is best to make a strong concentrate. So, use double the tea leaves that you would normally in a cup of tea.
- Your spices go in first when making a chai concentrate. Once you have steeped the spices for about 15–20 minutes, add your tea leaves for a couple more minutes. Brewing tea leaves for long will give you a bitter chai concentrate, and that is not something you want, ever!
Storing your homemade chai concentrate
This homemade chai concentrate recipe has great storage potential. This means you can easily store it in the refrigerator for about a week or in the deep freezer for much longer. That is why chai concentrates are a great make-ahead beverage for parties, BBQ brunches, and just anytime, really.
If you want to store your homemade chai concentrate in liquid form for more than a week, add a teaspoon of citric acid per quart of the liquid. The acid increases the shelf life of the liquid. You can easily order food-grade citric acid online on Amazon or pick it up from your nearest Walmart. Try looking for it in the baking products aisle.
To freeze chai concentrate
- Pour the liquid into an ice-cube mold.
- Once they have frozen, transfer them into an air-tight Ziplock bag.
- Label the bags with the date and pop them into the freezer.
Frozen chai concentrates cubes keep well for up to three months. For a hot drink, melt the ice cubes in the microwave and add hot milk for a delicious chai latte. Just add the cubes to chilled water to make an iced tea.
A question that I often get asked is why chai concentrates turn cloudy when frozen.
The answer to this question likes in the chemical composition of brewed tea. Tea leaves release caffeine and tannin at temperatures of about 100 F. These chemicals tend to bond with each other when refrigerated. Since water boils at 212 F, this is an unavoidable pitfall of frozen chai concentrate.
If you are serving a hot chai latte, this should not matter, but if you are looking to make an iced tea, perhaps you can consider making a fresh batch that can be refrigerated instead of frozen. A cloudy tea concentrate is not essentially bad, and unless you are overly concerned about how it looks, don’t worry about the taste—it will be just as delicious!
A quick and easy homemade chai latte
For some people, making tea is a cathartic process—someone who likes listening to their thoughts while the tea bubbles over. I am not this person. Thank you very much. I would much rather have my tea ready in a heartbeat.
The best part about making this homemade chai concentrate recipe is that you can whip up a cup of steaming hot chai latte or an iced tea in just five minutes. I hope you enjoy this recipe and share it with your family and friends.
This is a quick and easy chai concentrate recipe for a delicious Indian masala tea full of warm spices and a hint of sweetness.
- Mortar and pestle (sub with a blunt heavy object and a metal or wooden bowl)
- Sauce pan
- Fine sieve
- 25 oz glass bottle
- 5 Assam tea leaves (5 tea bags)
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger
- 1 dried rose petals
- 5 cups water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 6 green cardamoms
- 4 cloves
- 1–2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 star anise
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- Lightly toast the spices listed under Dry Roast. Keep stirring and watch the spices, so they don’t burn. Remove from the heat after 3 minutes.
- Let the roasted spices cool for 5 minutes, then give them a light pounding in a mortar and pestle.
- Heat water in a saucepan and add all your dry spices and ginger. Let them steep for about 10 minutes.
- Next, add the rose leaves and allow them to infuse for 2–3 minutes.
- Add the black tea leaves and brew the tea for 5 minutes.
- Add sugar and turn off the heat. Keep stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved in the liquid. Omit this step if you are making an unsweetened chai concentrate.
- When the liquid cools completely, strain the tea into a glass bottle through a fine mesh sieve. This chai concentrate can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- To make a hot or cold chai latte, use a 1:1 ratio of the tea concentrate with your choice of dairy. If using a frozen chai concentrate, add 4 ice cubes to a single drink.