This chai concentrate is a robustly flavoured mixture you can have on hand for whenever you want to have a cold or hot chai tea beverage. It is made with a blend of warm whole spices, black tea, and sugar, that makes for a delicious drink on hot or cold days throughout the year.
About this Chai Concentrate
Chai tea is a type of black tea blend from South Asia where people boil black tea with a multitude of spices, milk, and water. The whole spices often include black peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger root, green cardamom, and cloves, resulting in a slightly spicy beverage.
Utilizing this chai concentrate in homemade chai tea and other drinks is a faster way of infusing chai tea flavour into hot or cold milk, though, which makes it beneficial in ultra-busy homes. While the steps to making the concentrate are similar to making chai tea from scratch – just a lot more concentrated so that you won’t have to make it multiple times, if you want to enjoy a chai tea at home. Instead, you can blend a few tablespoons into hot or cold milk to have immediately.
To use this concentrate, you can add a couple of tablespoons to a glass of milk and ice for a refreshingly cold drink for a hot day. Meanwhile, this concentrate is equally good if you stir it into your favourite hot milk to enjoy on a cool crisp fall day. Plant-based milk is a good choice as well and blends with the spices beautifully.
Choosing Fresh Spices
This chai recipe starts with whole spices, which infuse with water to create a deliciously concentrated blend. Whole spices last a long time compared with ground spices. In fact, you can keep them for up to 4 years with the expectation that they will remain fresh and be suitable to use in various concoctions.
By comparison, ground spices only keep for up to 2 to 3 years if stored under the appropriate conditions. The reason whole spices have such a longer lifespan compared to ground is that they have less surface area exposed to the elements like small granules of spices do.
Whenever you store fresh whole spices in your pantry, a good rule of thumb is to label and date when you purchased them. They also keep the best in an airtight container and in a place where there isn’t any light. This is because both air and sun can have detrimental effects on spices.
How to Make this Chai Concentrate
1. To begin making this homemade chai tea concentrate, you should start by toasting your spices. This step amplifies the flavours of the spices so that they infuse into your tea easily and their flavours are much more prominent. To do this, simply heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat with a cinnamon stick, crushed cardamom pods, star anise, whole cloves, whole allspice, and black peppercorns. You will know they are sufficiently toasted when they are fragrant smelling, which should only take a minute or two. You can also gently swirl the pot to ensure more even toasting.
2. Next, you can add the sliced fresh ginger and water, before bringing to a boil and reducing to a simmer. This mixture should simmer covered until the spices have sufficiently flavoured the water, which can take a total time of 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Once that happens, you can stir in your choice of sweetener until it is dissolved. You will want to make sure to add the sweetener while the water is hot so that it dissolves easily rather than leaving a granular texture. Next, you remove the mixture from the heat and add the tea, allowing it to steep for a total of 5 to 10 minutes.
4. One of the final steps is straining the concentrate to remove the whole spices and tea leaves. A fine mesh strainer works the best for this as you will be less likely to end up with particles in your finished concentrate. Then, you can place it in a sealable container to store until you are ready to use it to make chai tea.
How to Use the Chai Concentrate
There are 3 ways that I recommend you use this homemade chai tea concentrate. One is in a hot preparation while the other is a cold preparation. The third includes coffee!
Iced Chai Tea: To make this homemade chai tea, simply blend 2 tablespoons of the concentrate into a glass containing 1 cup of your favourite milk, such as cow’s milk, oat milk, or almond milk, and some ice. Dairy or plant-based milk both work perfectly well. However, if you like a lighter-tasting chai drink or prefer it stronger, you can adjust the amount of concentrate to your taste.
Hot Chai Tea: For the hot version of homemade chai tea, blend 1 to 3 tablespoons of the chai concentrate into 1 cup of hot milk, like almond milk, or a combination of milk and water. While you might find the range of concentrate significant in comparison to the iced chai tea, foods and drinks tend to taste very different hot versus cold.
Dirty Chai: Add 1-2 tablespoons of the chai syrup to your iced or hot café latte for a chai flavored coffee drink (or coffee flavored chai 😉 ) also called dirty chai.
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Chai Concentrate Recipe
This chai concentrate is a strongly flavoured mixture you can have on hand for whenever you want to have a cold or hot chai tea beverage. It comprises a blend of warm whole spices, black tea, and sugar, that makes for a delicious drink on hot or cold days throughout the year.
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 cardamom pods crushed (or 1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds)
- 2 star anise pods
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/2 inch ginger sliced
- 2 cups water
- 2-4 tablespoons grated jaggery, piloncillo, or palm sugar, or brown sugar more if you like really sweet chai*
- 1 tablespoon loose-leaf black tea
To a medium-sized saucepan add the cinnamon stick, crushed cardamom pods, star anise, whole cloves, whole allspice, and black peppercorns. Dry toast them over medium heat for a minute or 2 until fragrant.
Add the ginger slices and water. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn down to a simmer. Simmer the spices for 10-30 minutes so they can infuse all their flavor into the water.
Then uncover and stir in the granulated sugar until dissolved.
Now take the saucepan off the heat and add the loose-leaf black tea. Let it steep for 5-10 minutes.
Strain the chai tea concentrate through a sieve to remove all the spices and tea leaves. Fill the concentrate into a bottle or other closable container.
To serve cold, add 2 tablespoons** of concentrate to a glass with ice and about 1 cup of milk of your choice.
To serve hot, heat 1 cup of milk (or half milk-half water) and add 1-3 tablespoons of chai concentrate.
Store the chai concentrate refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
* or omit sweetener altogether and add a few drops of liquid stevia as you are preparing each serving
**adjust concentrate amount to taste. I recommend 1-3 tablespoons for 1 cup of hot or cold milk