Chai Concentrate

$2.73 recipe / $1.00 drink

I was really really excited when I saw this post over on Judicial Peach the other day. Homemade chai is something that I’ve been wanting to make for quite some time. Never did I expect it to be so easy and so delicious. The final drink tasted every bit as good as what you’ll spend $4 on at a coffee shop and it is completely customizable (want less sugar? soy milk? orgainic?)

I did make one huge mistake in thinking that I had some cardamom in my cabinet. Turns out I didn’t and the grocery store near me did not have cardamom pods either so I had to make it without. Now, cardamom is kind of the signature spice in chai but I have to say, the drink was still freaking delicious without it. The recipe and prices below do not include the missing cardamom.

Chai Concentrate

Homemade Chai Concentrate

The cost of making this concentrate can be quite variable. The spices tend to be a little on the expensive side so you have to shop smart. I found a little bag of cinnamon sticks (photo below) in the hispanic foods section for only $1.50. You’ll pay three times that much if you buy it in a jar from the spice section. Cloves are pretty pricey too but luckily you don’t need many.

Tea can also vary quite a bit in price. Chai usually is made with black tea but I happened to have some Stash Black and Green Earl Grey so I used that. The floral aroma from the bergamot in the earl grey added a really nice touch. I bought the box of organic Stash tea at Target for $2.29 (18 bags). Tea can be 10x that expensive so shop around.

4.8 from 6 reviews
chai concentrate
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $2.73
Cost Per Serving: $1.00
Serves: 4
  • 4 bags black tea $0.51
  • 4 small sticks cinnamon $1.50
  • 1 inch fresh ginger $0.11
  • 10 whole cloves $0.39
  • ½ tsp vanilla $0.14
  • ½ cup sugar $0.08
  1. Place four cups of water in a medium pot. Add the cinnamon sticks, tea bags, whole cloves and ginger (peel and slice the fresh ginger).
  2. Bring the pot up to a boil, place a lid on top, reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes to make sure it is brewed strong.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and carefully strain out the tea bags and spices (Place a colander over a bowl and pour it in). Using whole spices not only adds more flavor but makes straining them out much much easier.
  4. While the spiced tea is still hot, stir in the sugar and vanilla. Store the chai concentrate in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.
  5. To make a drink, combine one part chai concentrate with one part milk. Heat and serve!
To use cardamom pods, slighty crush 4-5 and add to the pot with the rest of the spices


homemade chai concentrate

Step By Step Photos

green black earl greyThis is the tea I used, it is very very delicious for a “bag” tea (I usually prefer loose leaf). Using a flavored tea may muddy up the chai flavor so go for plain black tea if you’re unsure. Luckily, the earl grey blended really well with the spices.

cinnamon sticksThese are the cinnamon sticks I found for a really low price. If your local grocer doesn’t have them for a decent price, try checking ethnic markets.

whole clovesMy itty-bitty jar of cloves. I didn’t have time to shop around for this one but luckily, the recipe doesn’t call for a lot.

whole clovesIf you’ve never seen a whole clove, this is what they look like!

fresh gingerPeel and slice one inch of fresh ginger.

spiced tea potThrow it all in a pot with 4 cups of water (sugar and vanilla is added later).

steamy spiced teaBring the pot up to a boil, place a lid on top, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 5 minutes.

strain spiced teaStrain out the spices and tea bags.

spiced tea for chaiWhile it’s still hot, stir in the sugar and vanilla.

ChaiTo make a drink, combine one part chai concentrate with one part milk (I did 8 oz. of each). Heat and serve!

whipped chaiAdd a little whipped cream if you feel like something extra special.

This drink is seriously so good that I WILL be making it all winter long!


  1. Dani says:

    Made this recipe twice already… this is the first chai that’s come close to my fave coffee chain’s chai latte. I used a combo of 3 earl grey and a ‘stash’ chai with all the spices still. I like this combo but I think I will add one more tea bag as I still want a stronger tea flavor. Either way- so easy to adapt your recipes to personal taste!

  2. Liana says:

    This may replace coffee as my new morning drink. I was able to get the tea and spices (and cardamom!) from the bulk bins at my local health food store. Paid a little more than you did, but I guess that’s the price of organic, non-GMO, all-natural, free-range spices. They also have a ton of different teas, so I could try a different one each batch. This time I had one called Lapsang Souchong, which was really earthy and smoky, and went well with the other spices.

  3. Rachel says:

    I was going to buy cardamom pods on Amazon, but there is a choice of green or black? Anyone have a suggestion?

    • I think you could use either, but I have green.

    • Fatcat says:

      Use green cardamom in teas and sweets. Black has a smoky flavor and it’s best for savory meat dishes like curries/stews. IMO the smoky black cardamom and cinnamon do not go well together. Also, black is very strong compared to green so use sparingly.

      Also, the cheapest source of cardamom, cloves, fennel, turmeric, etc. will be your local Indian store, not Walmart, Whole Foods or Amazon.

    • chandrika says:


  4. Jasmine says:

    Just wanted to jump on here to say thank you! I’ve been making this for about a week straight and i’ve found a coffee alternative!

    From a former barista-one of the best home made chai recipes ive come across so far!

  5. Julia says:

    So delicious. I love chai. Best recipe I have found so far. Thanks Beth. I love all of your recipes.

  6. Helena says:

    This looks amazing. I have some ground cardamom (that I got for you chai scones…sooo good). How much would you recommend adding to this?

  7. Kristin says:

    You may also want to check out your local grocery, if they have a bulk section. One of the local Whole Foods and my co-op have a bulk section that includes spices, herbs, and loose teas. Just a thought.

  8. Megan Lewis says:

    Are you able to use any herbal teas? My stomach has an intolerance to caffeine, so I feel like I am dying the rest of the day. I mean, no white, green, black, or sodas (if I liked soda) because of how horrible I feel afterwards. It’s very sad. :(

    • It will definitely taste different because black tea is a major part of the flavor of chai, but I think it would still be very delicious. You just can’t go wrong with steeping fresh herbs and spices :)

    • Kristin says:

      You could try infusing your water. Republic of tea has a Apple Cider tea that doesn’t have any white, green, or black in it.

      I enjoy getting mint or peppermint in the bulk section, and infusing it with hot water, for some mint tea. Just an idea.

    • Allie says:

      Hey Megan, I know it’s been a while since you originally posted so I’m not sure you’ll even see this, but I work at a coffee shop where we make a decaf chai using rooibois red bush tea.
      Rooibos is naturally caffeine free (not processed into decaffeination which leaves negligible amounts of caffeine) and creates a nice balance with traditional chai spices. It definitely isn’t the same, and I would be lying if I said I thought it was just as amazing as a chai made with black assam tea, but it’s still pretty freakin’ good and would totally recommend trying it out! Good luck!

  9. Lisa says:

    I absolutely love Chai! This is going to be a mainstay all winter long at my house! Thanks!

  10. sophie says:

    Last week I went an amazing coffeehouse and I had a “frozen” chai (it had more of a slushy), do you think that making some milk icecubes and putting that in a blender with the chai concentrate?

    • sophie says:

      …..sorry for the stupid typo, I meant to put “would work” at the end.

    • I think you’d have better luck if you froze the chai concentrate into ice cubes and then blended that with the milk. I feel like if you ice cubes to the chai concentrate and milk it might be too watered down.

  11. ginger says:

    My daughter and I just dashed out of the house r go and get all the ingredients to make your tea. It’s amazing, we love it! Thanks for the helpful advice about the cinnamon sticks. You saved us a few dollars.

  12. valerie says:

    It’s fabulous, thank you sooooooooooooo much. I have tried many online recipes and this is the best.

  13. valerie says:

    I like it strong so I doubled up the spices and I added half a tablespoon of black peppercorns, 2 star anise and a little orange peel. Making it now…

  14. Lisa says:

    Sounds delish! I only have ground cardamom (and don’t really want to invest in the whole). Anyone know how much cardamom powder I could add instead of the pods?

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