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Enjoy the spicy flavors you love in this subtly sweet Homemade Chai Concentrate and enjoy warm or cold chai lattes. You’ll also save money and time by making them at home!
Why We Love This Recipe
I’m not really sure when I had my first chai latte but I was hooked from that first sip! So when I came across chai latte recipe in an old cookbook, I knew I had to try making it at home.
What I especially love about this chai tea concentrate is that not as sweet as what I normally get at a coffee or tea shop or even creamer flavored coffee drinks. I love having the concentrate on hand so that I can easily enjoy a daily homemade chai latte either iced or hot, depending on my mood or the weather (or both!)
I love that chai tea concentrate is make ahead and basically hands off cooking. The concentrate can be made in the slow cooker (affiliate link) or pressure cooker (affiliate link)! It’s so simple and “brews” for just a couple of hours which helps the flavors blend really well.
Because it’s a concentrate, you just add milk to make your own homemade chai latte.
Also, when you homemade chai latte at home, you’ll be saving so much money! It literally is just a couple of dollars to make a big batch so just pennies per serving!
Best of all, you can store the concentrate in the refrigerator for up to a week. Or freeze it instead to warm up, add your milk and enjoy anytime!
What’s The Difference Between Chai and Chai Tea?
The short answer: Nothing.
Chai is the shortened version of masala chai, a blend of black tea with a mixture of Indian spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves and cardamom. You can find it as an option at many coffee houses these days. It’s a delicious alternative to coffee or cocoa.
Chai is the Hindu word for tea so when you say “chai tea”, you’re really saying “tea tea.” But so many people seem to say chai tea that I feel like the two phrases are interchangeable. Purists will say it’s simply chai. But of course, it’s up to you what you want to call it!
Ingredient Tips For This Recipe
Most of the ingredients for this recipe are easy to find at the grocery store. I’ve got some money saving tips of where to find them.
Plain Black Tea – Just a basic black tea is fine. I usually buy the store brand and have used both tea bags and loose tea in this recipe. I share instructions for both in the recipe card below so choose what you prefer (or have on hand!)
Granulated Sugar – the plain white sugar. I’ve although thought about trying brown sugar—I’ll update this post if I do and it comes out ok!
Whole Cloves, Ground Ginger and Cinnamon Sticks – They are easily found in the spice section of your grocery store. Sometimes I will buy these items in the bulk spice section of the store, if available. That way I can buy just what I need for the recipe.
Whole Cardamom Seeds – This can be a bit trickier to find but I most often buy them in the bulk spice section of the grocery store. You can also use powdered cardamom. If you want to use the seeds, as called for in the recipe, be sure you’re not getting the pods by mistake.
The seeds are about the size of half a piece of rice, but round and black/grey instead. The pods are larger—about the size of a raspberry but oval and a dark green. If you can only find the pods, you can break them open to get the seeds out.
If you can’t find cardamom seeds at any of your local stores, you can also find them online (affiliate link–this is the brand I use).
Milk – We use a variety of milks but for this recipe, I’ve tested it with 2% milk work as it seems to work best for foaming (skim milk really doesn’t foam at all). We also like almond or oat milk and they foam very well.
How To Make This Recipe
I’ve modified this chai concentrate recipe from the original. I greatly reduced the original amount of sugar called for (it was WAY too sweet). I also tweaked a couple of the spice quantities, too, so they were all a little more even.
Once you’ve got the ingredients gathered and measured out, making this recipe is super easy.
You’ll want to use a smaller slow cooker for this recipe. I recommend a 3.5- or 4-quart slow cooker (affiliate link). When choosing what size to use in recipes, you want to make sure it’s at least half to three-quarters full (or even as much as 1-inch from the top edge). Be sure to check out my 10 Tips For Slow Cooker Success for more ideas on how to make the most of your slow cooker!
Combine the water, tea bags, cinnamon sticks and ground ginger in the slow cooker. I like to use a large mesh spice/tea ball (affiliate link) for the cloves and cardamom (1) so it’s easier to remove them when the tea is done cooking.
DO NOT ADD THE MILK! Cook mixture for two to two and a half hours and whisk gently (2) then remove the tea bags, cinnamon sticks and mesh spice ball (affiliate link), if used.
Sometimes I will strain out the powdered ginger although I find it’s not that noticeable much of the time, so it’s definitely a personal preference. I find lining a 2-quart pitcher with a fine mesh bag (affiliate link) and ladling or pouring the mixture an easy way to strain the liquid. I recently got a cold brew pitcher (affiliate link) that has a fine mesh strainer insert and that works pretty well too and stores easily in the refrigerator.
From there, use a two-to-one ratio of concentrate to milk to make a warm homemade chai latte or iced chai latte and enjoy! (3)
How To Foam The Milk
For an extra special coffee and teahouse treat, you can foam some milk to make it seem extra fancy but at a fraction of the cost! The easiest method is to use an immersion blender or handheld mini milk foamer frother (affiliate link).
A few years ago, I experimented making my own milk foam at home as I only recently got the milk frother. There are some easy ways to make frothed milk without a frother. One method was to use my blender. It’s a Vitamix (affiliate link) and but any blender (affiliate link) with an adjustable speed (like most of them) will do.
I made a video that you can check out here. It’s not the best as I was (and still am) kind of a newbie on making videos but the basics are there! It was made at the end of the day so next time I’ll hopefully look a little more refreshed—ha!
The last, and easiest in my opinion, is to use a glass jar and some good old muscle power. I learned this by watching another video. Basically, you take warm milk, add it to a jar with a tight lid (I used a small mason jar) and shake that milk for 30 seconds.
And voila! You’ve got foamed milk ready to pour into your chai and an arm workout as a bonus! I found that 2% or whole milk or half and half worked the best because of the creaminess.
More details are in the recipe card below!
Make Ahead Preparation Tips
You know I love make ahead recipes and this one is no exception. It’s so versatile too! Once the concentrate is done, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to a week (if it lasts that long!)
I will sometimes make a batch of the chai concentrate and freeze it into serving size cubes. My favorite way to do this is to use SouperCubes (affiliate link) because they are so easy to use! But I have also used silicone baking cups (affiliate link) or ice cube trays too.
The frozen concentrate can be used for making both hot or cold chai lattes. If using for hot, just warm it up in a saucepan or the microwave until it is heated through. Then add the foamed milk.
If using the concentrate to make an Iced Chai Latte, you can use the chai cubes directly in your blender. Add the milk and then blend it up until slushy and pour into a glass to enjoy right away! I also like to enjoy it just over crushed ice and skip the blender.
If you want to make an Iced Chai Latte but you haven’t frozen the concentrate, that’s easy too. You will just add crushed ice in the blender.
Enjoy More Tasty Coffee or Teahouse Drinks at Home
I like saving money by making coffee house treats at home. Be sure to check out my Homemade Cinnamon Vanilla Creamer or Peppermint Mocha Creamer to add to your coffee or hot cocoa. Or maybe hot cocoa is more your style like Cinnamon Hot Chocolate or seasonal All-Natural Pumpkin Spice Hot Cocoa.
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If you’ve tried this recipe, let me know how much you enjoyed it by coming back and leaving a comment below and a rating. I love hearing from you!
Homemade Chai Concentrate
- 8 cups water
- 8 bags black tea
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 16 whole cloves
- 16 whole cardamom seeds
- 5 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
For Each Serving
- ½ cup 2% milk
- Combine all ingredients except milk in slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 2 ½ hours.
- When done, strain mixture and discard solids. At this point tea may be stored and refrigerated up a week.
- Just before serving, stir in milk. I like the ratio of two parts chai tea mixture to one part milk but you can adjust to your preference.
- Serve warm or chilled and enjoy!
Originally posted in February 2015 and updated in March 2021 with new photos, content and video.
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