Creating my own chai concentrate makes me feel a little bit like a witch making a potion. The whole spices that are used look amazing and exotic, and the aroma is unbeatable. In my mind, whenever I make chai concentrate, I have an image of a witch bent over a caldron, stirring and whispering magical words to create a powerful potion. Hmmmm, makes me kind of want a caldron…
Anyways, chai latte is my favorite coffee shop drink. Since I am slightly sensitive to caffeine, I find chai is my best choice for any coffee shop, especially if said coffee shop has almond milk (super yum). I think, for me, I find comfort in the unique blend of spices. Chai originated in India, as a spiced milk tea, it was used as a delicacy and for medicinal purposes. It is traditionally black tea brewed with a variety of warming spices such as ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, cloves and peppercorns.
So, since coffee shops like to charge extra for alternative milks (What’s up with that? Alternative milk tends to be cheaper than dairy milk, so way do I need to pay an extra 0.30 cents for the alternative. It makes no sense to me and if someone knows that answer, please explain it to me.) I find that I’d rather make chai at home, since it’s cheaper for me to enjoy and I can control what it is made with.
Initially, if you don’t have all of the ingredients to make chai concentrate, it may be a little bit on the expensive side, but then you don’t need to use very much of the spices and they should last you through a few batches (plus, they are awfully photogenic.)
To make Chai concentrate you will need:
- 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 whole vanilla bean, split down the middle
- 8 cardamom pods
- 2 star anise pods
- 10 whole cloves
- 1 tsp whole, black peppercorns
- 1 tsp of ground nutmeg (freshly ground is best, but pre-ground works too)
- 1 tsp of orange zest
- 10 black tea bags
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- 4 1/2 cups of water
- 1 Tbsp of honey (totally optional, adds sweetness to the concentrate but totally doable with out it)
- Prepare spices. If you prefer to make a sachet out of cheesecloth, it makes for easier straining. I don’t usually go to the trouble and just let my spices party and move around in the pot. If you choose the freedom method, you’ll just need a fine mesh strainer to catch all of your spice goodies when you are finished.
- Add the brown sugar and water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, throw in your teabags and spices (basically, everything else) and let simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove the pan from heat and strain into a glass bowl to cool. If you feel your concentrate is lacking in sweetness, throw in some added sweetener of your choosing (date sugar, coconut sugar, or honey) to get it to the level of sweetness that you will enjoy.
- Pour yourself a giant mug. Here’s how I drink mine: I find my giant mug, fill it a quarter of the way with concentrate, fill the rest of the mug with almond milk. Then I pull up a comfy blank and a good book and have an awesome evening. Makes about 4 cups, store in airtight jar in the fridge for up to a week.