Chai tea was one of my favorite drinks in college and many days I’d grab a vanilla latte or a chai tea latte on the way to class. Now, I make superfood vanilla lattes instead since I need protein, healthy fats, and nutrients (not just sugar and artificial flavors) to keep up with my busy days!
I wanted to create a healthy chai tea latte as well and since my kids always want some too, I wanted to find a faster way to make a bigger batch. By brewing up my own chai tea concentrate, I can add milk to create a hot or cold chai latte any time it sounds good (or even freeze it to make a frosty blended version).
The Perfect Chai Tea Latte
You can use any combination of tea, spices, milk (like my new favorite, macadamia nut milk), and sweetener to make the perfect chai latte for you. However, to achieve that warm and slightly spicy chai flavor, there are a few necessary spices. I always like to use cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, cardamom pods, black peppercorns, fresh ginger, and vanilla extract. Sometimes I’ll add chamomile flowers, star anise, or fennel too.
Buying a large quantity of different spices all at the same time can get expensive, but so does buying chai tea at a coffeeshop! Homemade saves money and is better for you. Also, here’s a fun frugal fact: did you know cinnamon sticks can be rinsed, dried, and reused 2-3 times?
The tea I use for this just depends on my mood and who I’m making it for. Black tea is the most obvious choice, but if made with herbal tea (like rooibos tea) or decaf tea, it is wonderful for kids and the mix of spices is great for anyone who is sick or congested.
To make your chai tea latte extra special, top with whipped cream, whipped coconut cream, or use a nut milk made for foaming in coffee.
How to Make Homemade Chai Tea Concentrate
This recipe makes 6 cups of a chai tea concentrate to be used as a base for the latte. To make a latte, mix equal parts tea and milk of choice together.
The leftover tea concentrate can be stored in a pitcher in the refrigerator and used as needed over the next week or two. I really like this glass pitcher with a straining lid, because I can just leave the spices in the tea.
Note: If you don’t want to make so much chai at once, you can reduce the amount and make a single serving in a saucepan in just a few minutes. Just simmer a small quantity of the herbs in the water, add a tea bag or two and brew as a strong tea, add the milk or coconut milk until hot and sweeten to taste.
Instant Pot & Slow Cooker Options
This recipe can be made in a pan on the stove, in the Crock-Pot, or in the Instant Pot. The method I choose just depends on how much time I have that day.
For all three methods, the spices are simmered in water before steeping the tea. The stovetop method takes about 30 minutes, the Instant Pot takes 5, and the slow cooker about 2 1/2 hours on high. After the spices are done simmering, add sweetener (if desired) and vanilla extract, and it’s done!
Chai Tea Latte Recipe
- Pour the water in a large saucepan, Crock-Pot, or Instant Pot.
- Use the flat side of a large knife to crack open the cardamom pods and slice the ginger into thin slices.
- Add the cardamom pods and seeds, ginger slices, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, and cloves to the water.
- If using the stove, bring the water and spices to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes.
- If using a Crock-Pot, heat on high for 2 hours or low for up to 8 hours.
- If using an Instant Pot, cook at high pressure for 5 minutes then allow pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes before venting.
- Add the tea bags, vanilla extract, and sweetener if using and let steep for 10 minutes.
- Strain finished chai concentrate.
- Enjoy hot or cold by mixing equal parts warm or cold chai with warmed or cold milk. Top with whipped cream or whipped coconut cream!
- This is a chai concentrate meant to be mixed with milk to make a chai latte. Feel free to adjust the spice and sweetness levels to fit your taste.
- Freeze the chai in cubes and blend with milk for a frappe-style chai latte!