Chai Tea Concentrate for Lattes & Cocktails

It PAINS me to admit I have a Starbucks drink because it pains me to wait in line at Starbucks and listen to “half caff” and “macchiato” and “frappuccino,”- syrupy abominations I could stomach if the coffee weren’t so over roasted and unpalatable. Admittedly, I am what you call a coffee/coffeeshop snob. (Before you condemn me completely, I’m not alone in thinking their drinks are obnoxious.) I have principles and rules, and no matter how much I like it, I just can’t bring myself to revel in Starbuck’s stronghold on Tazo Chai unless I am:

  1. At an airport
  2. At a rest stop

I am neither of those right now.

Chai Tea Concentrate for Lattes & Cocktails //

But I am resourceful! My final nudge to satisfy my chai cravings with a homemade solution came after styling the “Big Batch” article for TABLE Magazine. The article, by Jessica Server, also featured recipes for making a big batch of soup and a pancake mix. High yield recipes not only simplify weeknight menu planning, but these consolidated efforts lend themselves to my passion- entertaining.

Chai Tea Concentrate for Lattes & Cocktails //

Stretching out these more intensive kitchen efforts yields more gatherings with less stress. Without having to start from scratch for each party, there’s more time to focus on other obsessive details without devolving into Mr. Hyde before guests arrive.

Chai Tea Concentrate for Lattes & Cocktails //

Homemade chai concentrate not only saves me from Starbucks, but this recipe offers more opportunities to welcome friends into my home. If a big batch of chai doesn’t inspire you to host a variety of gatherings, keep reading. I’ve thought about this for you.

Chai Tea Concentrate for Lattes & Cocktails //

Invite a friend over for some quality one-on-one time. Serve a pot of chai and delicacies from your favorite French bakery, or bake this apricot breakfast pastry. Make an even bigger pot of chai and warm a whole table of brunch guests with all the comforting spices. After dark, offer guests a chance to concoct their own gingerbread inspired cocktail with my favorite Snap liquor. For an even fuller bar, offer spiced rum and whiskey options too.

Chai Tea Concentrate for Lattes & Cocktails //

If I seem a tad obsessive about these “Big Batch” ideas, it’s partially because I am obsessive and partially because I spoke about them in front of a live audience! For a few more of my ideas on Big Batch entertaining and styling, check out this video from my spot on Pittsburgh Today Live with TABLE Magazine:

Happy Sipping!

Quelcy Signature

Chai Tea Concentrate for Lattes & Cocktails
Recipe adapted from the graphic food memoir Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley 


3 bags of black tea (caffeinate or decaf- I used Irish Breakfast Tea)
3 cups filtered water
3 whole cardamom pods
~1-inch chunk of ginger, peeled and grated (or more to taste)
1 star anise
1 whole vanilla bean (or 1 cap full of pure extract)
6-8 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick

For Serving

Pure maple syrup to taste
Organic whole milk or milk substitute
Art in the Age Snap Liquor


Place 3 cups of water in a small pot on the stove on high. Add tea bags or a diffuser of black tea and heat to a low boil.

Meanwhile, crush cardamom pods with the side of a knife.

Add crushed cardamom, star anise, grated ginger, vanilla bean, cloves, and cinnamon stick to the pot and stir. Continue to stir while it simmers, until it has a soupy consistency (about 5-10 minutes).

Remove from heat and let cool for a bit, then strain it into a lidded glass container. Cap and refrigerate tea mixture for later use (lasts a few weeks), or freeze it for longer.

Note: You can reuse the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean, but discard the rest of the strained ingredients.

To Serve:

Chai Tea Latte

1 part chai concentrate : 1 part milk

Combine 1 part chai concentrate with 1 part milk (or milk substitute) in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a low boil. Remove from heat, pour into mugs and serve. Sweeten with pure maple syrup to taste.

Chai & Snap Cocktail

1 part chai : 1 part milk : 1/2 part Snap (or more, to taste)

Stir together, and pour over ice.

Alternately, heat chai concentrate & milk, pour into a mug, then add Snap.




This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. JojoBean

    THANK YOU! Thank you for not being a Starbucks lover, and for sharing this awesome alternative that can be home brewed… just THANK YOU 😀

    1. Quelcy Kogel

      ha! You are welcome! For a while I was looking into “affordable” espresso machines for my kitchen, and I quickly realized the reviews were of no help to me as most of them said “so good! Just like Starbucks, only cheaper.” *face palm* as the kids say.

  2. Linda

    I so agree! I am not a fan of Starbucks…overpriced and not even good tasting! Now this Chai Tea concentrate sounds like an absolute winner…with or without company! 🙂

    1. Quelcy Kogel

      Yes- definitely meant to be savored solo too! I’m glad I found the right ears for my rants. 😉

      1. Linda


  3. Anne Livelh

    Great TV appearance, Quelcy!

Leave a Reply