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
- 6 cups water
- 5 cardamom pods
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger
- 5 cinnamon sticks
- ½ tsp black peppercorns
- 10 whole cloves
- 8 tea bags (or ½ cup loose black tea or herbal tea)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-4 TBSP maple syrup (or honey, optional)
- milk (dairy, or dairy-free, up to 6 cups or to taste)
- 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!
Discussion (34 Comments)
Would almond milk work?
Just a tad confused. Do you add the milk after it cooks for the hours, or do you add the milk to cook with everything else for hours? And I’m seeing different lengths of cinnamon sticks, which, I assume, would lend to different amounts of cinnamon in the finished product. What do you use? THanks!
Add milk after it cooks…
I cooked mine on low for six hours but didn’t strain it til it hit about the eighth hour and it turned out really bitter. Was it just too long?
It could be that it was too long, or depending on the head differences with crock pots, the temperature could have been slightly too high…
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Just a suggestion, but the first chai I ever had was so good that I copied out the ingredients from the packet, and one of them was Star anise. that and the cardamom seemed to really “make” the flavor and I’d suggest adding that to your chai to keep it from being just plain ole spiced tea. teehee.
Yes, you can not have a real chai tea without lots of fresh cardamom pods… and black peppercorns, too!
This was amazing! Thanks so much! I used Red Raspberry Leaf tea as well and used individual packets of truvia to sweeten each cup. Thanks for the amazing recipe!
Did you use 8 bags of raspberry leaf tea?
I put the ingredients in my crock pot on low last night and just woke up in anticipation. I have a curdled slew. 🙁 What went wrong?
did you use coconut milk?
Yes, I used Coconut milk. :/ I think it was Trader Joes brand, unsweetened. Perhaps the problem was that at the last moment I tossed in a spoonful of ‘mulling spices’ because I was a tad low on the cinnamon stick. The mulling spices had a bit dried orange rind, perhaps the citrus curdled the coconut milk. Also I have a new-ish crock pot which seems to cook much hotter than the old one I had for years. My husband said it was ‘boiling’ when he got up (4:45 am) I assume it was ‘simmering’. It was on low, and begun around 10 pm. Does using the new/hotter crock pots mean we always need to lessen the cooking time? I definitely can’t leave a roast in for 8 to 12 hours any longer. I cook two large boneless skinless Turkey breasts on low to falling apart tender in 5 hours on low in my small crock pot (5 quart, I think). I’ll try it again during the day when I can keep an eye on it. I was able to strain all the curdles out with a cheese cloth and I put the rest in a large jar, and it’s fine with fresh (coconut or almond) milk added and heated up. 😉
All I can think is the heat. If you have a newer crock pot, maybe try for just a couple of hours and see if it works better!
Thanks! I’m bummed that I can’t wake up to hot chai. 🙁 Now if I want it I’ll need to just make it normal, or be forced to wait 2 hours. I sure which the FDA or whomever is responsible for the new higher heating crock pots would have just left well enough alone. All my recipes have to be adjusted and the whole point of a crock pot is the ability to turn it on first thing in the am or last thing at night and forget it. Can anyone recommend a new crock pot that heats like the older ones?
Mine was a little curdly too. I think maybe it’s the coconut separating? But i just strained it and stirred it. It still tasted good!
Could I use ground cinnamon in lieu of cinnamon sticks? And if so, how much would you suggest?
you can, I’d just make sure its in a bag, because cinnamon powder tends to get slimy in a crock pot for some reason
Thanks! I can’t wait to make this. Your pumpkin latte sounded so good but I don’t like coffee. Chai tea is one of my all time favorites but I have given it up due to the sugar/milk version that you get at Starbucks. I’m definitely going to try this one!
This looks absolutely delicious! What a great way to warm up in the cooler weather!