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Chai Tea Concentrate

March 30, 2024

Warm, perfectly sweet and spicy with just enough buzz to get us through our day, this chai tea concentrate recipe is a powerful soul warmer that will snug you up from head to toe.


Mug on a plate with homemade chai tea

Sounds of Silence

Quick question: What do you do when you finally get five. minutes. to yourself? For us, the answer is simple: we make ourselves a cup of tea to sip in silence. And more often than not, it’s this homemade chai tea that you’ll find in our mug during these fleeting few quiet moments. Full of warming spices—think black pepper, ginger, and cinnamon—with the perfect touch of sweet (thank you, brown sugar and vanilla), this chai tea concentrate is the ideal cup of company no matter how momentary your minute of peace may be.

Ingredients for homemade Chai Tea concentrate laid out on a linen fresh ginger, anise, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla
Ingredients for homemade Chai Tea concentrate in a cheese cloth fresh ginger, anise, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla

What is Chai Tea?

Where do we start? “Chai” is actually the Hindi name for tea, and is itself derived from “cha” which is the Chinese word for tea. Basically, by definition, chai simply means “tea”. But what most of us have come to commonly consider chai tea is a deeply spiced and sweetened black tea cut with a fair pour of milk. Does chai have caffeine? Indeed it does. We repeat! Chai has caffeine. Our version relies on a backbone of strong black tea, though if you’re in search of a caffeine-free chai, we suppose you could swap in decaf tea bags. But then you’d miss out on that afternoon perk-up provided by a dose of strong, sweetened black tea, and who’d want that?

white ceramic pot with homemade chai tea concentrate

Chai Tea Ingredients

What’s in chai tea? Our homemade chai is fragrant with warming, wintry spices. Get ready to raid your spice drawer (or grocery store bulk bins)—here’s what you’ll need:

  • Black tea
  • Fresh ginger
  • Orange zest
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Cardamom pods (seeds will do in a pinch)
  • Star anise
  • Whole cloves
  • Black peppercorns
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Vanilla bean (or extract)
  • Brown sugar
homemade chai tea in a jar next to milk

How to Make Chai Tea

One of our favorite things about chai tea is that it’s fully customizable. Want it spicier? Add more pepper. Too sweet? Tone down the sugar. Our chai tea recipe is totally dialed in to make and enjoy from first steep, but that doesn’t mean you can’t adjust to suit your own tastes if you’d like. It’s also an all-season sipper. We find ourselves wanting something warm and cozy on these cold, crisp mornings, so we drink it warm. But, we also enjoy it chilled, over ice, while sitting at our dining room tables, soaking in the warm, rays on these sunny, afternoons.

  • Serve hot: it is a powerful soul warmer that will snug you up from head to toe.
  • Serve cold: it will remind you there are warmer days ahead.
  • However you drink it, our favorite recipe for a chai latte is a simple 1:1 ratio of chai tea concentrate to milk.
Homemade Chai Tea Concentrate in a jar with cinnamon, star anise and vanilla
Warm milk being poured into a chai tea concentrate latte

Dairy-Free Chai Tea Latte Alternatives

Love a good chai latte, but you don’t do dairy? We’ve got ya. Our chai tea concentrate is nondiscriminating in the milk department—it tastes delicious however you brew it. Give cow’s milk the boot in favor of these milk alternatives:

  • Coconut milk. Serve it iced with a little extra honey syrup stirred in for a coconut chai latte akin to that oh-so-delicious Thai iced tea from your favorite takeout spot.
  • Cashew milk. Did you know homemade cashew milk is sooooo easy to make? Soak 1 cup of cashews in near-boiling water for an hour, then blend in the Vitamix with 4 cups of cold water for several minutes. We like to add maple syrup, sea salt, and cinnamon to taste. Combine equal parts homemade cashew milk and chai tea concentrate for a super creamy dairy-free chai latte.
  • Oat milk. Oat milk is totally the barista’s dairy-free darling of the moment, and we can totally taste why—it’s a great match to our chai recipe, too!
A mug of Chai tea made with Homemade Chai tea concentrate with a spoon
A mug of Chai tea made with Homemade Chai tea concentrate with a spoon

Tools to Make Our Chai Tea

  • Medium saucepan. We have a glass one handed down from our grandma nearly identical to this one that we simply adore for this chai tea recipe.
  • Mesh strainer. One of the most versatile tools in our kitchen.
  • Favorite mug. Like this gorgeous mug from Portland-based Notary Ceramics. Because tea tastes better when sipped from a favorite drinking vessel.

It’s a Tea Party!

What would tea time be without snacks? Turn our chai tea latte recipe into a full-on fete with these nosh-worthy bites.

A mug of Chai tea made with Homemade Chai tea concentrate with a spoon

So Buzzworthy

Our black chai tea have you buzzing around the block? Show us your mugs and tag us @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy sipping!

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Chai Tea Concentrate

  • Serves: 12
  • Prep Time:  5 min
  • Cook Time:  20 min
  • Calories: 55


  • 6 cups water
  • 12 black tea bags
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 10 whole cardamom pods or 60 cardamom seeds
  • 3 whole star anise pods
  • 20 whole cloves
  • 20 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup brown sugar, adjust to taste
  • 1 vanilla bean, or 2 tbsp vanilla extract


  1. Bring water to a boil.
  2. Add tea bags, spices and vanilla bean (if using extract, hold off until the end to add it.) Remove from heat and let steep 15-20 minutes, longer, depending on how strong you want it.
  3. Strain and add the brown sugar and vanilla extract if using. Stir to combine.
  4. Mix ½ cup concentrate with ½ cup any type of milk. Heat on stovetop or microwave. Keep refrigerated. Enjoy for up to 2 weeks.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories55
  • Protein0 g
  • Carbohydrates14 g
  • Total Fat0 g
  • Dietary Fiber1 g
  • Cholesterol0 mg
  • sodium9 mg
  • Total Sugars12 g

Chai Tea Concentrate

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Jacalyn

    I look forward to trying this recipe. I think you want to correct "back tea" to black. Thank you for sharing!

    Oh my, thank you so much for bringing this to our attention!

  • Robyn

    How many times can the spices be reused when making chai?

    We usually only steep each bag once. Feel free to see if you can steep it twice but we feel like a twice steeped bag is usually much weaker.

  • ashleigh

    this recipe is *chef’s kiss*. i’ve been making this during the holidays for the last few years and it’s become something i look forward to every year as it starts to get cold! the aroma through the house while it steeps… OH MY! seriously the perfect recipe and i share it with everyone! i’ll never go back to store bought concentrate. 10/10 :)

    Thanks Ashleigh, that is so wonderful to hear and we are so glad you love it!

  • Christene

    I didn't have an orange so I used some drops of orange essential oil and added it with the sugar. This was delicious! I highly recommend making a double batch. I had mine with 1/2 & 1/2 over ice. SO YUMMY.

    Thanks Christene, we are so happy you love it!

  • Julie

    I made do with the spices I had on hand (ground cardamom and cinnamon instead of pods and stick) and just strained it through a jelly bag. It tastes wonderful mixed with oat milk. I'll be making lots and lots of this in the future.

    Yay! So glad you loved it Julie!

  • Annette

    This is a new hit at our house. I'm making it in double batches. We are serving it with frothed soymilk either hot or cold.

    Love this! Thanks Annette, happy to hear you're enjoying it so much!

  • Jenn

    I love this concentrate, I make it in big batches and give it as gifts around the holidays too!

    Thank you Jenn, we are so glad you love it!