Chai Concentrate

Check out how you can see my phone’s reflection in that picture.  Nice, huh?  I’m still new enough at this that I’m going to choose to let things like that be okay.

Who loves chai?  (I’m raising my hand right now.  Really, really high.)  I actually posted a chai recipe as one of my first posts on this blog.  You can’t see my phone’s reflection in the photo on that post.  I just checked.  I also sneak chai spices into oatmeal, granola, and even green smoothies (trust me, it’s good).

I love a hot cup of chai that’s been cooked low and slow, but sometimes I really start to crave iced chai, especially in the warmer months.  I’ve never been completely satisfied with the type of chai that comes in a tea bag; the flavor just doesn’t hold up well enough for me.  With iced chai, I never felt like there was a quick way to make it that would still keep the bold flavor.  Brewing it with whole spices over the stove for an hour is delicious, but I’m usually ready to drink it immediately, and I don’t have the patience to let it chill.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve actually been working on this recipe for several weeks.  You can buy boxes of chai concentrate, and I’ve always been impressed with the iced chai I’ve made with those.  I really wanted to develop a chai concentrate I could make at home in order to whip up a cold glass of chai whenever I so desired.

After plenty of experimenting, I’ve finally settled on a recipe that hits the spot for me.  In order to get the best flavor, we’re going to steep the spices in hot water and then cold brew the tea bags themselves.  You’ll see what I mean when you get to the recipe, but the advantage of this is that the tea will be able to steep for a long time without becoming bitter.  Cold water reacts differently with the tea than hot water does, releasing a smoother flavor.  If you want to know the science behind it, do some research on cold brew tea.  It’s pretty neat.

Once you’ve prepared the chai concentrate, you’ll mix 1 part milk with 1 to 1.5 parts concentrate in order to achieve the proper balance.  This recipe made enough concentrate to provide two small glasses of chai.  If you’d like to keep more concentrate on hand, feel free to double this recipe.  Enjoy!

Iced Chai Concentrate
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 5 green cardamom pods (popped open with the flat side of a knife, like you would with a clove of garlic; this releases the flavor better)
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1″ ginger, peeled
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 bags black tea (I used Darjeeling.)
  1. Add everything but the sugar and tea bags to a small pot.  Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Strain out the spices, add the liquid to a glass jar, and add sugar.  Dissolve. Congratulations; you’ve made spiced sugar water.
  4. Let the liquid cool for an hour or two.  Once cool (no warmer than room temperature), add the tea bags.  Seal the jar, and place in fridge to steep for 24 hours.
  5. Remove the tea bags.  Your concentrate is ready to be mixed with milk (or dairy-free alternative).  Use approximately 1 part milk & 1 to 1.5 parts concentrate.  Serve cold.


4 thoughts on “Chai Concentrate”

  1. I’m very intrigued by this because I LOVE chai. I made a powder/spice blend to just add to milk but it was too gritty and of course, I made a lot. This makes so much more sense! I wonder if I just added that mix to water and simmered it if it would combine a bit better…
    Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Hi, Katherine! Thanks for stopping by!
      I’ve experimented with a powdered spice blend too, and while the flavor is there, that grainy texture is just not enjoyable. If spices could just dissolve like sugar could, that would make things so much simpler! Thankfully the whole spices aren’t too hard to come by once you find the right place to look (cinnamon sticks and peppercorn are typically available at any grocery store, and I found the cloves, cardamom, and star anise at an international market), and I think that they actually deliver an even better quality of flavor than ground spices do.

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