Homemade Chai Concentrate is quick and easy to make with just a handful of spices and your favorite black tea.
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You should know something about me: I don’t like coffee.
To be fair, I have enough digestive issues that coffee doesn’t like me much, either. So the feeling is mutual, I suppose you could say.
Either way, I am a tea girl all the way. Just like many people struggle to get their day started without a cup of coffee, I struggle to get going without my tea.
Most mornings, I’m just making myself a pot of green tea. But if I’m swinging by the local coffee shop, I’m nearly always in it for the chai.
I just love the mix of spices (so much so that I put the flavors into my favorite chai sugar cookies). My ideal chai is nice and strong with plenty of zip from the ginger. I’m forever trying the chai at every coffee shop I go to.
But as much as I love supporting my local coffee shop, I also realized at some point that stopping by multiple times a week for my iced chai fix was putting a significant dent into my bank account.
It was at that moment that I determined that I could make a homemade chai concentrate that was as good, if not better, than what I could buy at the grocery store.
THE BEST CHAI CONCENTRATE
I have tried so many store-bought chai concentrates over the years. Seriously. TAZO, Trader Joe’s, Oregon Chai…the list goes on.
But they were all missing something for me. Some were way too sweet, some didn’t have enough flavor, some had way too much star anise for my liking.
It’s enough to make a girl feel like the Goldilocks of chai.
So years ago I took a recipe from The Prairie Homestead and fiddled with it. And fiddled and fiddled and fiddled some more.
I can’t tell you how many times I made and tweaked this recipe until I managed to get exactly what I was looking for: a chai concentrate that is not too sweet and allows the flavors of the spices to come through.
I have made this recipe countless times since I first posted about it nearly 7 years ago and let me tell you: it holds up. It is still my go-to when I want to make chai at home and save myself a few bucks at the coffee shop.
HOW TO MAKE CHAI CONCENTRATE
If you can boil water, you can make your own chai concentrate. I promise!
The key to this recipe is using whole spices.
Whole spices are definitely cheaper than you think. But the key is to skip the big box grocery stores!
If you have a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern market near you, they’ll likely have all the whole spices you need. Or look for a spice shop near you – they should have what you’ll need as well.
When in doubt, you can always order your spices online. They last for ages, so you’ll be able to use them for cooking and baking projects for a long time.
For this recipe, you’ll need:
- Dried ginger pieces
- Cinnamon sticks
- Star anise pods
- Whole cloves
- Allspice berries
- Green cardamom pods
- Black peppercorns (optional)
You’ll also need a vanilla bean, vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract.
The vanilla is the real key to this recipe for me. I tried it several times without the vanilla, and every time it was a little bit “blah”. It was when I added the vanilla that all of the flavor notes really fell into place.
You’ll primarily need a medium pot and a fine mesh strainer for this recipe.
You can also use a mortar and pestle to gently crack open the whole spices before simmering them, but it’s not required.
Making this recipe
To make your chai concentrate, start by combining water, honey, and the whole spices in the sauce pot. Bring this to a boil.
Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer; simmer the mixture, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and add in the tea leaves or tea bags. Let the tea steep for 5 minutes.
Now you can strain out the spices and stir in the vanilla.
Pour your concentrate into the container of your choice before using or storing!
HOW TO USE THIS CONCENTRATE
Most recipes – and even store-bought concentrates – suggest mixing 1 part concentrate with 1 part milk.
I happen to like my chai, like all tea, pretty strong, so I like to use a higher ratio of concentrate-to-milk. Play around with it and see what you like – because that’s the beauty of making it at home!
The other nice thing about making chai at home is you can use whatever milk you like. Dairy milk (I personally prefer whole milk), soy milk, oat milk, coconut milk…it’s all up to you!
To make a chai latte
Heat your desired amount of chai concentrate in the mug of your choice. Gently heat your desired milk, then use a milk frother to foam the milk before pouring it over the concentrate.
I like to sprinkle a little cinnamon on top for some extra flavor and to make it look pretty. And voila! A homemade chai latte!
To make iced chai
Fill up a glass with ice, then add your desired amount of chai concentrate to the glass. Pour in the milk of your choice, mix, and enjoy alongside a slice of sourdough banana bread or applesauce bread for the perfect breakfast or afternoon snack.
One of the nice things about making your own concentrate at home is that it lasts a long time in the refrigerator.
Store the chai concentrate in the bottle or jar of your choice and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
It will honestly stay good for up to a month, but I like to use it within 1-2 weeks because I think that is when the flavor is the best.
- 6 cups water
- 4-6 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons dried ginger pieces
- 5 cinnamon sticks
- 2-3 star anise pods
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- ½ teaspoon allspice berries
- 1 heaping tablespoon green cardamom pods
- Up to 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns optional
- 4 tablespoons black tea leaves OR 5 black tea bags
- 1 vanilla bean OR 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste OR 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Milk of your choice for serving
- In a saucepan, bring the water, honey, whole spices, and vanilla bean (if using) to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add the tea leaves or tea bags. Steep for 5 minutes before removing tea bags. Strain out the spices and stir in the vanilla bean paste or extract, if using.
- Pour into an airtight container and allow to cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.
- To serve, mix anywhere from 1 to 2 parts concentrate with 1 part milk of your choice (whole, soy, almond, oat, etc). Serve over ice or heat.
4 years…phew! What a whirlwind! I guess that means we’ve known each other for just about 3 years now, yes? And we’re lifers!
I seriously can’t wait to make this chai concentrate…I have some of the whole spices already and I know exactly where I can get them for mere pennies. LOVE that this is refined sugar-free – I’m totes going to make and drink it in bulk! 😀
We are SO lifers. xoxoxo
Happy blog bday, babes! This chai concentrate is the real deal and I want to guzzle down a gallon of it.
If you do, I hope you get much accomplished on your caffeine high. 😉 (PS – Timehop reminded me this morning that we met up with Stef two years ago today. WHAAAT?!)
Congrats on 4 years! We go through so much chai around here, especially in the colder months! Can’t wait to try your version!
I hope you enjoy it!
Congrats! These photos are stunning!
Thank you so much, sweet Medha!
Happy 4 years! Chai tea is the perfect way to celebrate. I love this homemade version, and those whole spices are just gorgeous.
Thanks, Jennie! Would it be weird to just put out a bowl of whole spices to pretty up my house and make it smell nice? Because I’m thisclose to doing it.
Yummy!! Homemade chai is SO great for the chilly days of fall. Also happy belated blog-iversary!
Thank you so much, Phoebe! I think we should make chai EVERYTHING this fall. Let’s do it!
So happy to have a chai tea recipe at last! I drink tons of it, especially in the winter, and it is so expensive to buy!! Thank you so much—can’t wait to try it, but I’ll have to search out the spices first.
This is THE BEST chai concentrate. I have been looking forever for the perfect one and you nailed it. Thank you so much!!!
I am SO glad you love it!