Recipes for making chai concentrate?
June 20, 2018 4:44 PM   Subscribe

I would love to know how cafes and coffee shops make their chai lattes. I have a great black chai tea, but how do I latte it? Any advice would be really great. I'm thinking iced chai, but would love to hear any tips.

I would especially love to hear from baristas who have made concentrate in bulk, because I'd like to be able to scale the recipe up. (I know lots of places used boxed chai like Oregon Chai, but I'd like to know how to make it from scratch).
Do you brew the tea, add a sweetener and then let it sit? How long is it good? Is the sweetener a simple syrup? Honey?
Do you wait to add the dairy/non-dairy milk until right before you serve it?
posted by areaperson to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
My very favorite recipe. I think I've tripled it too. It works well with milk or almond milk!
posted by bookworm4125 at 5:48 PM on June 20, 2018 [5 favorites]

I usually make this on the stovetop but I made it in the Instant Pot recently and produced a wonderful concentrate. I add the spices to taste. More pepper & ginger produce a spicier brew. Experiment until you find the combination you like.

Chai from Heaven

Cinnamon Sticks, broken
Green cardamom pods, crushed
Ginger, washed & sliced
Black pepper, cracked
Cloves, crushed
Assam Tea
Sri Lankan Jaggery (ideal) or Demerrara Sugar

Basic recipe: Bring ginger, spices & tea to a boil and simmer with milk for 15-30 minutes. Add sugar to taste. Store in fridge for up to a week.
posted by 6thsense at 6:35 PM on June 20, 2018

This is the recipe I have used with great success. I make the concentrate and store it in a pitcher in the fridge, and then add milk (either warm or cold) when I'm ready to drink some.
posted by SeedStitch at 5:45 AM on June 21, 2018

I love the flavor of Linda Tay Espisito’s chai recipe. This version is a pantry recipe and doesn’t call for any fresh ingredients. My preference is to to use fresh dairy rather than evaporated milk - I just sub whole milk. If I’m feeling lux, I might add a splash of cream or half and half for extra richness. To make this as a concentrate, don’t add the dairy until you are ready to serve it. The ratios for this recipe would be roughly 2 parts tea and 1 part milk.

For your first batch, I’d suggest not sweetening the whole batch - if you sweeten each cup as you drink it, this will let you experiment with honey/sugar/jaggery until you find one that you like best. Then, you can start to play with the seasonings.
posted by jenquat at 5:56 AM on June 21, 2018

Seconding SeedStitch above: for cafe-style iced chai lattes, a concentrated tea syrup is shaken with cold milk and ice. Leaving the dairy out until serving will help it keep longer in the fridge, and will give you the taste you're seeking. Classic milk-simmered-with-tea-and-spices chai is delicious, but has a distinct and different cooked dairy note, and to my palate is nicer hot than cold.
posted by halation at 8:09 AM on June 21, 2018

Response by poster: These look amazing. Thanks everyone!

Halation, what do you mean by a "tea syrup?" Does the concentrate get as thick as a syrup?

Are there any baristas in the house who could tell me how their coffee shop makes chai? I can't imagine many coffee houses are brewing their own spices to make chai - although kudos to them if they are. I think they make brew a strong bag of chai tea and then add a simple syrup? Maybe cinnamon to the cup before pouring the milk in? I'm looking for a short cut if there is one, but I don't want to use a boxed mix. Any ideas?
posted by areaperson at 10:53 AM on June 21, 2018

Often coffee shops purchase a sweetened concentrate. The sweetener will make the mixture thicker, hence calling it tea syrup.

Then it’s just a matter of adding water (iced chai), shaking with cold milk (iced latte) or steamed milk (chai latte) to the syrup.
posted by jenquat at 12:06 PM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

When I was a coffee-shop barista, we always used a concentrate of the sort you're not wanting to use -- often Oregon Chai or Republic Chai concentrate. As Jenquat says, the base of the concentrate is usually cane syrup or simple syrup. It is possible to make your own -- here are two similar versions -- but in my experience, most coffee shops do too much volume to make this practical. A bar I worked in did make their own chai concentrate for a specialty cocktail, though; the recipe was similar to the second link.

The sole exception to the use of premade concentrate was a tea shop where I worked -- there, we brewed extra-strong pots of looseleaf chai mix (double ratio of tea to water, boiling water, pot brewed for ten minutes) and for chai lattes we generally poured a 70 : 30 ratio of brewed tea : milk of choice, with simple syrup added for sweetness. We'd build the drink over ice for an iced latte, or heat/froth the mixture with the espresso machine's steam wand for a hot chai latte.
posted by halation at 2:39 PM on June 21, 2018

I don’t have a copy of the book here, but the Vegan Slow Cooker cookbook Has a recipe for chai concentrate that I use regularly. I make about 12 cups at a time.
posted by buttercup at 11:31 PM on June 23, 2018

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