DIY Dirty Chai Concentrate

Why yes, I have become somewhat obsessed with duplicating everything I can order at a coffee shop.

Get Sconed!

This happened fairly regularly over the summer. I’d scoff at the price of cold brew, and make my own. Ditto for espresso, which came into my life when my (latest) no-so-trusty french press broke. Homemade syrups were also little check marks on my list. And likewise for chai concentrate, which I’ll share below.  I bet the look on my face the first time I realized it usually comes from a freaking carton, hot or iced, was something special.

So, summer budget, meet summer productivity.

Thanks to motivated annoyance, this jar of dirty, spicy chai concentrate was quite popular in my fridge this summer. The following sweet yet robust, aromatic concoction falls quite nicely over ice (cut with soy or coconut milk or whatever, if you like), steamed & frothed in a mug, mixed with even more espresso, frozen as ice cubes (done and done), mixed with your liquor of choice for a cocktail — or a really, really dirty chai milkshake. Plus, the whole process makes your kitchen smell amazing.

DIY Dirty Chai Concentrate

Here’s what really happened… J. Legume and I were sipping from a delightfully spiced iced chai at Seattle’s Trabant on a weekend getaway, and (finally) realized we likely had everything at home to make this for ourselves. I mean, she probably rolled her eyes and I probably had stars (anise-shaped) in mine. A jar of chai concentrate in the fridge vs. buying a $4 drink at a coffee shop? One that automatically skips the honey and already includes the espresso you’d pay even more to add a shot of? Why, that fell under the summer DIY initiative quite nicely. Fast forward to MoFo, and I was ready to open up the google doc where I stored my initial notes.


  • 4 cups water

  • 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

  • 3 tablespoons ground espresso (or the equivalent brewed)

  • 2 cinnamon sticks

  • 8 whole cardamom pods

  • 2 star anise pods

  • 4 whole black peppercorns

  • 1 vanilla bean, scored

  • ¼ cup to ⅓ cup sweetener, such as jaggery*, agave or coconut palm sugar > Remember this is making a concentrate, so heavy sweeter is OK, but do adjust to your personal preference, because you can always add more when using the concentrate.

  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • 10 whole cloves

  • 10  black Assam tea bags (or another variety you desire)


Bring the mixture to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, and let steep for 20 minutes. Discard tea bags. Strain well in a mesh strainer, let cool, and bottle or jar as desired. Shake well, and mix 50/50 (or again, as your personal preference goes) with your nondairy milk of choice over ice and enjoy.

*I went with Indian jaggery because I happened to have a container  that wasn’t seeing much action. A word of caution for the unfamiliar, its intensely sweet!

The spices & sweetener

Black tea (everyone has a box they’ve almost forgotten about, right?)

Simmer away…

The very final item on my delayed summer list of my DIY coffee shop endeavors is currently in-progress, and sitting in my fridge in the form of condensed coconut milk.

The next step? Pumpkin coconut creamer……..don’t mind if I do.


  1. Why yes I DO have teas I’ve completely forgotten about – they only come out in the cooler weather. I made my own versions of chai a lot last year but never a concentrate. It must be great to have that on hand. I THINK I have most of these spices but I’ll have to check because I really do love the flavors of chai and a shot of espresso never hurt to help a second wind after work.

    1. I had no issues, and really, you’re working with a whole lovely mess of flavors with just a bit of espresso here that end up melding together. You are certainly welcome to hold off on adding it until the end!

  2. I am 100% all over this. I crave strong cups of chai as soon as the temperature drops below 60, but I’m rarely ambitious enough to do much other than pop a tea bag in some hot water. Ready-made concentrate could be a game changer this fall!

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