Skip the syrupy versions in the store - this deeply scented chai concentrate will satisfy your every chai craving

Homemade Chai Concentrate

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Skip the syrupy versions in the store - this deeply scented chai concentrate will satisfy your every chai craving

I love chai.

However, I must readily admit I've only ever drunk chai in North America, where nearly all chai is made from a syrupy concentrate rather than made from scratch right before drinking.

In India, the birthplace of the masala chai I have come to know and love, chai is made fresh with coins of fragrant ginger and freshly ground spices.

However, I must admit I love the convenience of having a chai concentrate on hand to mix up a cup quickly and easily whenever I'm in the mood.

So, I make this homemade chai tea concentrate, which is cheaper than buying the store-bought concentrates, allows me to use natural, mineral-rich sweeteners to taste, and I can adjust the spices as I like.


Skip the syrupy versions in the store - this deeply scented chai concentrate will satisfy your every chai craving
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5 from 2 votes

Homemade Chai Concentrate

Skip the syrupy versions in the store – this deeply-fragrant, richly-spiced homemade chai concentrate will satisfy your every chai craving.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 1 liter


  • 5 cups water
  • 3 inches fresh ginger, sliced into coins
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 tablespoon black or pink peppercorns
  • 60 cardamom pods
  • 20 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander, optional
  • 1 orange peel, optional
  • Β½ cup whole leaf loose black tea or 12 tea bags
  • ΒΎ cup honey, more or less to taste
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 Β½ tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


  • Place the water, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, peppercorns, cardamom, cloves, coriander, and orange peel in a wide saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add in the tea. Let steep for 7-9 minutes, then strain the entire mixture through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Stir in the honey, molasses, vanilla, and lemon juice, then pour into a mason jar or other airtight storage container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. (Alternatively, the concentrate may be frozen for up to six months, so consider freezing the concentrate as ice cubes to reheat in single size portions.)

To serve

  • Serve with milk in a ratio of 1:1.
  • To serve hot, heat 1/2 cup chai concentrate with 1/2 cup whole milk, almond milk, or coconut milk and enjoy thoroughly.


If you have a cut leaf loose tea (e.g. Yorkshire Gold) rather than a whole leaf loose tea, cut the amount of tea in half and use only 1/4 cup.
Skip the store-bought mix and make this deeply fragrant homemade chai concentrate instead.
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  1. 5 stars
    I love chai tea lattes! I usually buy the powder from a mix, because the ingredients seem like a lot. Maybe if I just dive in and make it in bulk! This looks delicious, thank you for the recipe. πŸ™‚

    Nicole @ WKH

  2. I’m wondering if it can be canned so I can give it as gifts or send it to college with my daughter. Any thoughts?

  3. I just got done telling the ladies at work that I was spending waaay to much money on Starbuck’s Chai Tea, the grocery stores concentrate and then Trader Joes powder(which I’m not too crazy about but cheaper than concentrate and lasts longer) and that I just needed to quit drinking it I guess. Then lo and behold, I opened up my email and saw this post! Thank you! I am definitely going to make this, you have just made my day πŸ™‚

    1. You’re so welcome. Enjoy! And remember that you can change up the spices, so if a month from now you want to change it up, you can! πŸ™‚

  4. I have occasionally bought premade chai tea. Most often I bought the powdered mix.
    And then. One day while helping our Indian neighbors with a project they brought out chai tea that put everything else I’ve ever tried to shame!thanks for this recipe!

    1. Yes, that is correct. 1/4 cup of cut leaf tea (such as Yorkshire Gold, Typhoo, etc) and 1/2 cup for whole leaf tea. πŸ™‚

  5. So, the recipe calls for 5 cups water, but it says it yields 16 cups. How does it YIELD 16 cups concentrate with only 5 cups of liquid? I think i’m missing something…..

    1. No, you’re not missing anything. It yields 1 litre (1 quart), which is four cups of concentrate but 16 servings. I used cups quite loosely (as in, “would you like a cup of chai?”), but you’re totally right – that’s seriously confusing. I’ll fix it. πŸ™‚

  6. I am looking forward to trying this soon. I actually have everything except the 60 cardamom pods, so I may just try it now with a lesser amount of cardamom. I have always used dry chai (tea and spices) rather than concentrates and powders simply because the concentrates and powders are so much more expensive.
    We have been chai lovers for many years but even after we’d been drinking it for a few years I was surprised when a friend told me that chai and tea have the same meaning. So, in essence when I said chai tea was really saying tea tea. It is now a family joke: care for some tea tea?

  7. 5 stars
    I made this today with a couple of substitutions – primarily… I couldn’t find whole cardamom for a price I was willing to pay so I used about a teaspoon of ground (I figured it had larger surface area than the whole pods and I was afraid of overdoing it; this could have been increased), and I used three drops of anise extract instead of the stars. I’m not a huge fan of anise, though it does add to the chai flavor. This was a good amount for me. I also used a teaspoon of dried valencia orange peel. The rest I did per the recipe – including the coriander, which I was skeptical about, but turned out to compliment the other flavors well.

    I ended up letting this simmer for closer to an hour. At 20 minutes it tasted more like the spice level where I’d want my tea at, and my husband agreed so I just let it go.

    I used 6 yorkshire gold tea bags. When I make this again I think I”ll try 8.

    I strained it through a few layers of cheesecloth because I opted for ground herbs in some places.

    I started with between 1/4 and 1/3 cup of honey at first, because 3/4 seemed like too much to me, and I’m so glad I did. I can’t even imagine 3/4 cup of honey in this, or that I’d taste anything else. What I put in was a little much for me, even. So I’d recommend starting small and working up. The molasses was a good addition and helped deepen the flavors, imo.

    I made up a cup with 1:1 milk, I might reduce the milk a smidge just because it wasnt’ quite as strong as I’d like it, but my husband thought it was perfect. It had a good chai taste to it – warm, slightly spicy, and delicious!

    Some variations I’m considering for next time: Dried apples or replacing half (?) the water with apple juice/cider (and reducing the honey even more). Adding dried cranberries along with the orange peel. I might also try tossing an ice cube of frozen pumpkin puree into the saucepan when I’m heating up a cup net time.

    Thanks for posting!

    1. This is called homemade because in many stores in the US, Canada, and other parts of the world (I don’t know where you are located) people buy a drink mix called “Chai Tea concentrate” which is concentrated, sweetened, spiced black tea that is ready to mix with warm milk. In this version, you make your own concentrated, sweetened, spiced black tea mix at home. πŸ™‚

    1. No, it won’t curdle. The ratio of lemon juice to milk isn’t nearly enough to cause the change, such as if you were making a quick homemade buttermilk substitute.

  8. I am on such a crazy budget, being that the holidays are here. I was wondering, I have most the ingredients but in ground form. Can I still make this and have the true Chai taste by using the ground cardamon etc?

    1. Absolutely! In fact it tastes lovely. πŸ™‚ The only reason I didn’t write the recipe that way was because it’s more difficult to strain the ground spices out in order to have a very smooth drink, but it’s definitely do-able. Go for it – and enjoy! πŸ™‚

        1. Yes, absolutely, but it would likely be very slow and you’d have to pour in the mixture just a bit at a time. But yes, absolutely it would work. πŸ™‚

  9. I have been waiting to make this–needed to buy the ingredients. This past weekend our small health food store had a sale on all of their spices and herbs so I went a little crazy. I did make this with ground cardamon as she doesn’t carry the pods. I boiled it a wee bit long and then let simmer as directed. The house smelled wonderful! Even the hubby who is the one who turned me onto chai tea lattes said it smelled good. I did not have molasses and will buy some next opportunity because I think that would give it a nice kick. I love the fact that you can play around with the spices! I am afraid I might have added too much lemon however. The next batch I will cut back on that. I did not add all the honey either like other readers. So excited to try this tomorrow (too late for all of the caffeine tonight). Thank you very much for posting this! It will hopefully save us many $$ as the entire family enjoys the powdered mix but we just do not like to pay for it! LOLOL

    Happy holidays!

    1. I’m so glad! I love this mix too. πŸ™‚

      It’s funny that you mention the honey…. I find when I’m writing my recipes I often write down more sweetener than I actually use because I’m trying to imitate the store-bought varieties, which are very sweet. (I’m thinking mostly of this recipe and my homemade ketchup, as well as a couple of other condiments.) Since I notice several of you liking recipes LESS sweet (like I actually do too!) I’ll definitely keep that in mind as I’m writing recipes. πŸ™‚

      I hope you enjoy this through the holidays! I find these spices very homey… πŸ˜‰

  10. Hi, thanks for the post. I tried making this for my husband, it tasted a little off but he’s not picky so he drank it anyway. I decided, like a genius, to make a triple batch as gifts for friends. I reduced the cardamom (I also made a pouch of ground because none of the stores I tried carried the pods) because that’s what I attributed to the strange taste, and cut down on the pepper corns because we were running low. Everything else was according to recipe. It turned out tasting strange as well. Frantic at the thought of wasting so much tea, and yet too embarrassed to send something weird tasting to my friends, I panicked -first, I added more tea to cover the strong spice taste, then when that didn’t fully help I added sugar to help combat the bitter taste, however it still tastes strange. I’m at a complete loss. All the comments sounded so positive. I’m not sure what I did wrong. Is there anything I can add after the fact to make it taste better? I need help!

    1. I’m so sorry – that’s always frustrating to be excited about a recipe that doesn’t live up to your expectations!

      Out of curiosity, could you describe a bit more what you mean by “strange”? Is it like a milk-that’s-gone-bad kind of strange or is it too sweet-and-syrupy kind of strange or was it overly bitter or…..?

      Also, what brand of chai do you usually drink? I ask only to pinpoint what might be different from what you were expecting.

      Did you use either the orange peel or the coriander? Those flavors are sometimes a bit unexpected, even though they’re fairly in the background.

      Do you tend to like star anise? That’s actually the flavor that most stands out to me as most “outside” of the typical flavor profile, so perhaps try it without those?

      And perhaps the molasses didn’t sit right with your palate?

      So, I don’t know if I have much help to offer, but those are the options that first come to mind. Do any of them sound helpful?

    2. I noted many of you could not find cardamom pods: Mountain Rose Herbs carries them and many other herbs and spices. They are my β€œgo-to” place for all my herbal needs. They are a great company, as they are located in my hometown, and I pick up at their storefront.

  11. I can not wait to try this recipe and have a quick question. I love a chai tea that is spicey and has some heat at the same time if that makes any sense….is it the ginger that needs adjusted for more or less heat or is it a different spice. Just curious because I’ve never made chai tea from scratch and would love to start.


    1. Oh, yum! Yes, I totally understand – I love the combination of warm spices with the sensation of heat too. πŸ™‚

      I would increase both the ginger to maybe a 4″ piece and slice it into matchsticks, not just coins, to give it more surface area.

      I would also increase the black peppercorns, perhaps to 2 tablespoons, just slightly crushing them if you have a mortar and pestle.

      I haven’t tried it that way, as the rest of my family doesn’t like the heat so much, but those are the proportions I would start with.

      You might also want to read Stephanie’s recent account of being in India and watching her chai be made fresh – that might give you some inspiration. πŸ™‚

      Have fun!

  12. I have never made concentrate before (I’ll have to give it a try) but when I make Chai I use rapadura sugar (which is like very raw sugar, brown, slightly moist, and totally yummy) I think that honey has too strong a flavor profile for really good Chai, though I suppose that really depends on what kind of honey you have available. Try lightly pan roasting the whole spices first, don’t let them burn, and it really boosts the flavor profile.

    Thanks for Writing


  13. Love this recipe – so easy to make, and makes great tea. One question – do I bring to boil and simmer with pot lid on or off?? Thank you!!

    1. I usually simmer with the lid off, merely because it helps the liquid reduce and concentrate just a bit.

      Enjoy! πŸ™‚

  14. So excited to try this! I usually use the Chai tea bags and can never get it strong enough. When I go to starbucks, I order it without water and with 3 extra pumps of chai concentrate. It is way too sweet but just enough spice. What can I do to make it really spicy? I am trying to cut back on sugar and will probably leave it unsweetened if that will work.

    Also how long does this concentrate last?

    1. I would just double all the spices and see if you like it that way – if not, just adjust the ones you especially love. The ginger, cinnamon, and peppercorns are what will make it spicy (as in “zingy”), but the cardamom, cloves, and coriander are especially what give it it’s distinctive flavor.

      The concentrate lasts for up to 1 week in the refrigerator and up to six months in the freezer.

      I hope that helps! πŸ™‚

  15. I am a chai tea newby and have been drinking Oregon Chai Latte brand. I love it! So after the second box I hunted down a recipe. Your’s sounds the most interesting but before I invest in the ingredients, would you say your recipe is close to the flavors in the Oregon brand (supposing that you may be familiar with it)? For instance, I really like Anise but don’t want to have it be an overwhelming taste. Also, do you use black or green cardamom?


    1. Well, when I created this recipe, I was specifically crafting it to mimic that brand, so hopefully the spices are somewhat similar. πŸ™‚ That said, it’s been at least two years since I last drank some Oregon Chai-brand chai, so I am no longer able to offer notes or comparisons on their flavors, as I don’t really remember! I’m sorry!

      As for the cardamom, I use dried green cardamom pods, as they’re cheaper and they’re easier to find. πŸ™‚


  16. This recipe is amazing! I’m currently making my second batch. I can’t use real sugars in beverages, so I subbed splenda in the same amount as the honey, and it was perfect. I can’t imagine how good this would be with real sugars in it. I also left out the orange peel and the molasses. My sister in law was ΓΌber impressed with this too. Thanks so much for the recipe!

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