Working With What You Have: Iced Chai Tea Latte

Posted by on Monday Jun 27th, 2011 | Print

Here are some more ideas for delicious summer drinks!

I can remember my first-ever chai tea latte. It was a Saturday in the early spring of 1998, and I had a terrible cold. Feeling sick, I had played hooky from a friend’s bat mitzvah (this was seventh grade, when every weekend’s activity revolved around bar and bat mitzvahs), yet I was somehow up to joining my family on a shopping trip to the Upper West Side. Not only was my nose running but it was also raining out, and at last my family and my whiny thirteen year-old self took refuge in the local Starbucks. I think I ordered a chamomile tea, adding honey to it to soothe my poor throat. I took a sip, and my sense of smell and taste clogged by my sickness, I couldn’t taste a thing. I might as well have been drinking hot water, and I set my tea angrily down.

Someone else–maybe my older sister, Jill–ordered a chai tea latte, which can’t have been on Starbucks’ menu for very long at that point. I for one had never seen it, heard of it, or tried it. But unlike every other scent in the world that day, I could smell it. The mix of black tea, cinnamon, cloves, and other spices made its way through my stuffy nose, and it was like an epiphany.

Jill, fearless of contagiousness or perhaps looking to pawn her tea off, for unknown reasons, onto her little sister, let me have a sip. Like the smell, the taste got through to me too, and from that moment I was hooked. The one sip became several, and soon I had finished the whole cup, tasting every sip. It’s the kind of flavor mix that appeals to me–creamy, like ice cream, and spiced, like gingersnaps.

As the years went by, I drank a lot of Chai Tea Lattes, hot and cold. At some point, I got a little tired of paying so much for them, and I looked into making them at home.

Though chai tea at home is far better than chai tea bought at coffee shops, mostly because it’s less achingly sweet, it’s not really a production to make. In fact, like many of our Working With What You Have dishes on this site, it’s just about having a stocked pantry and spice rack. After that, all it really takes is a scant bit of motivation, which in my case was derived from the arrival of summer and the desire for something very cold to drink.

From my kitchen, brewin’ chai tea, to yours,

Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK

**Recipe**

Iced Chai Tea Latte
Makes 1 drink

 

Ingredients
6 tablespoons Chai Tea Concentrate (recipe follows)
1 cup milk of your choice*
Ice

*If you use sweetened almond, soy, or rice milk, you may need to play around to make the concentrate less sugary. This recipe was developed using 2% milk.

Pour both the Chai Tea Concentrate and the milk into a glass, stirring to combine them. Add a large handful of ice, and drink immediately.

You can make this into a hot drink for winter by warming the milk and chai concentrate slowly in a small saucepan until very hot. Serve in a mug.

Chai Tea Concentrate
Makes 1 1/2 cups, enough for 4 lattes

Ingredients
3 tablespoons sugar
8 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick, snapped in half
1 slice ginger, peeled
5 whole cloves
4 whole black peppercorns
2 black teabags
1 tablespoon honey

Combine all ingredients except the honey in a pot. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower slightly and let simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat  and let steep for 5 minutes. Remove the teabags, squeezing out any liquid from them. Let the spices steep for another 15 minutes. Strain, removing all the spices. Add the honey and stir in. Taste, adding more honey if you like.

Cool completely.

The concentrate is easily doubled and will last a while in the fridge.

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  • http://happyolks.com Kelsey

    Yum! I can attest that it’s just as delish with homemade rice milk ;)  

  • http://keroiam.wordpress.com/ keroiam

    i love iced chai lattes and this looks so good!  esp in the jars.  love it and can’t wait to try.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1000643 Emily Esch

    I second that, Kelsey. I love iced chai with rice milk — it’s like liquid rice pudding. 

  • Marianne

    Yum yum yum! I love chai lattes. This sounds awesome!

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  • Hollis

    I freeze my chai concentrate in an old ice cube tray, then I always have some on hand :’)

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/GUCNWLGYWMROTPIEQGSKDYXMWU Kat

    This sounds like an awesome recipe! I love chai tea!! so i will have to try this out :)
    thanks :)

    katattack2000.wordpress.com

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  • http://thebluesnail.blogspot.com/ Larstod

    could you just use a “chai tea” tea bag and steep it in milk? would it be similar?

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      Not really – you’d be missing out on a ton of great flavor. But not a bad sub in a pinch!

  • http://twitter.com/Drinkmechai Drink Me Chai

    Thank you for spreading the chai love and explaining how you discovered this wonderful Indian drink.

    Our Drink Me Chai powder is instant chai at home!  Just add hot water or milk for an authentic taste.

    It can also be iced, as you suggest, and used in smoothies and milkshakes.

    More and more people are discovering the lush taste of chai and wanting to make it at home, or use it in baking cakes, breads, muffins etc.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chrissi-Matusevics/100002112166894 Chrissi Matusevics

    when I made it I never used to add sugar, I left that to whoever was drinking it and we used to sometimes make it in the morning to drink cold in the evening too

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  • Lyanna

     This is FANTASTIC. I omit the honey, and I increase the ratio of chai to milk to 1:1, and it’s better than any iced chai latte I’ve ever paid money for.

    Thanks so much for the recipe!

    • Kate

      I have to add tons of chai too! Gives way better flavour:)

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  • Accuratewriter

    I’m going to try to make tapioca pudding with it!

  • Accuratewriter

    Do you think it would work well to use it for cookie, cake etc? If so, how would I go about doing that?

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      What do you mean? As a flavoring?

  • lucy

    i didnt have all of those ingredients for the chai concentrate, so made a chai tea simple syrup by steeping 3 bags of chai tea in 1/2 cup of water, then stirring in 1 cup of sugar!

  • Zara

    Hey! Absolutely love your blog! As someone from a chai-drinking culture I felt I had to add something here…
    So, Chai = Tea and Doodh(milk) Patti (Leaf) Chai (Tea) is your basic chai latte- Usually your best bet for this is to boil the spices in (whole) milk with about a teabag and a half per cup (trust me on this!). I usually just cut the teabags open and boil the whole thing if I don’t have loose black tea. Let it boil, reduce the heat, boil again. Strain and sweeten it as you like. (Usually the sugar is boiled with the rest of the tea, but this gives you more control)
    If you let it cool and shove it in the fridge for a bit, voila! Iced Chai Latte! :D
    Enjoy! :D

  • ladyhourglassyourheadisonfire

    Has anyone tried making a large batch of this to preserve?
    I like to use it in a pinch hot or cold, and I’m not sure the best way to keep it fresh for a while!
    I read the one about the ice cubes, and that would be great for iced, but I like hot chai lattes as well.

    Is there a way to can it to stay on the pantry shelf?

  • LauraS

    I had my doubts, but this recipe is FANTASTIC! I didn’t have any cardamom pods, so I just used a half tsp of allspice. Next time I will have the pods on hand.

  • Michelle

    Great spice, but *way* too sweet for me and the 2:1 ratio of tea to milk is too milky. I love the idea of having the concentrate ready-made though, so next time would leave out all the sugar and only add the honey (might even cut that down a bit, depending on the results). Then the chai can be sweetened and milk added to taste when I make it up.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/katie.willis.79 Katie Willis

    I only have loose leaf tea. Can I use 4 spoons of tea leaves instead? And what about brown sugar instead of white. I usually use ten cloves when I make mine, and that’s just two cups worth, but I’ve found I really like the clovey (It’s a word!) flavour.

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      Yes, both of those subs sound totally fine. I’ll definitely try mine with more cloves next time.

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  • http://www.farandfaraway.com/ Megan Leader

    I just had my first iced chai latte using this recipe, and it was just fabulous! Like another commenter, I used a little bit higher chai-to-milk ratio, as 6 tbsp wasn’t quite enough chai for me.

  • Betty m.

    love the recipe. but did try the ratio of tea to milk and it was too little. I like it “spicy” as the Starbucks so maybe next time I’ll let it boil longer for a stronger taste of the concentrate. but it is good!!!! thanks!!!

  • Mikki

    I found the 6 tablespoons to one cup of milk a tad weak, so it’s better for me to have about 6 tablespoons to 1/2 a cup of milk. I may try making the concentrate a tad stronger, like double strength. I think I just like my tea a bit stronger. It is sure tasty though. So nice to make it from scratch and not use chai tea bags! Thanks for this recipe!

    • Mikki

      Forgot to mention. I use raw milk and that makes it a super healthy drink!

  • Charles @ The Local Forkful

    Considering I’m pretty much addicted to Big Train Chai Mix! I think I might have to cheat on them and give this a try. Glad I found your blog.

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  • Smriti

    this is delicious! total love <3
    how long does the concentrate keep for in the fridge?

  • Roz

    Hi, the recipe sounds lovely! I have just one question, though – how big a slice of ginger should I use? Thanks!

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      Thanks! The slice should be about 1/4-inch thick – exact size will depend on the diameter of the ginger, but no need to be precise. Enjoy!

      • http://artofroz.com/ Rositsa Zaharieva

        Thanks for the clarification :)

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  • Stacey

    Do you think it would be possible to make the chai tea concentrate using loose leaf chai tea? Perhaps steeping it and letting it cool and then adding it to the milk + ice when you want the latte?

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      I think that’d be easy! You’d just want to have a fine sieve around to get rid of the leaves before you drink.

  • Kate

    I found that you can only actually taste the chai if you put in 12-14 tablespoons of the concentrate… Did anyone else find this?