Do's and Don'ts of DIY Iced Chai Tea Concentrate
Make your own DIY Chai concentrate and treat yourself to a fancy iced summer sipper while giving your wallet--and your stovetop--a break!
I'm interrupting your regularly scheduled CSA farm share recipe programming with my current summer drink obsession, Iced Chai Tea Latte. After my friend Melanie treated me to my first Iced Chai Tea Latte at a Starbucks a few weeks ago I have been playing around with proportions and ingredients. You could even say I've been experimenting.
I was describing my endeavors to a new friend at a grad party across the street. The conversation was sparked by pointing out my house 'the one with the pitcher of tea steeping by the kitchen door' and she asked if I'm a scientist. No, a food blogger.
This concentrate will not make an exact replica of the Iced Chai Tea Latte I had at Starbucks. I wanted something a touch less sweet since I'm drinking at least a quart of it a day. I'm consciously remembering to sub in a glass of water in between refills. After all this experimenting I've come up with a list of 5 Do's and Don'ts of making your own Iced Chai Tea Latte at home.
|This was a blind taste test for my son, and a taste test for me. Boiling water vs sun tea. The sun won says my #1 son.|
#1 Do use a blend of chai tea flavors.I chose to use chai teas that I could easily find at all 3 grocery stores I frequent [So for me that was Bigelow. No relationship exists with the Bigelow folks but I should have bought stock in the company, I'm going through a couple of boxes in a week!] Having a blend of flavors tastes better to me than a single straight type of tea. I've made this with caffeinated and decaf spiced chai tea and blended it with both caramel and vanilla chai tea. I've settled on the vanilla because I like it and it's easiest to find [when you go through 7 tea bags a day you want easy acquisition]. Here's an Amazon affiliate link if you'd like to buy some by the case. Not a bad price.
#2 Do add peppercorns to your blend.After my friend Jo commented that she had trouble recreating the 'peppery bite' of the Starbucks Iced Chai Tea Latte I added in some peppercorns. [Keeping with the Indian theme I use Tellicherry peppercorns.] My son likes the larger amount that I've listed in the recipe while I prefer the smaller amount. My peppercorns are from Penzey's but plain whole black peppercorns from your favorite spice shop will work.
|Please to note the pair of peppercorns huddled together at the bottom.|
#3 Don't boil water to make this tea. Use the sun instead.On a whim, because I really am experimenting with this, I made identical batches using different methods (boiling water vs sun-heated water). I called in my collaborator for a blind taste test and we both preferred the sun tea method so I am sharing that here. The boiling water just tasted too harsh. Yes, it takes longer, but you can always have a quart steeping and another quart in the fridge ready to mix up and drink.
|Speaking of tea and DIY--my spouse took this photo of an upcycled hummingbird feeder while we were at the Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati, Ohio checking out the butterflies. I thought it was cool, though only tangentially germane.|
#4 Do add some sort of sweetener.I used caster sugar for most of my batches because it's one of the 7 kinds of sugar I have on hand [and yet I blog about beets & bok choy--why do I have so many kinds of sugar?] and I thought it would dissolve the easiest after I removed the bags from the sun-warmed tea. I found that 4 teaspoons per quart wasn't sweet enough for me and 8 teaspoons per quart was a bit too sweet so I settled on 6. My son still thinks it's too sweet, but taste is subjective and I'm the one assembling the concentrate. So there. I've also swirled a couple of tablespoons of honey into a batch and like that as well.
|I won this cup at a Friday Writers Night at our local library. Saxby's donated the prize, though I've not had an Iced Chai Tea Latte there, but their cranberry orange scones are amazing.|
#5 Don't use my proportions--mix this the way you like!I'll give you a range for mixing up a glass of Iced Chai Tea Latte. While watching the barista at Starbucks it looked like ~ 6 ounces concentrate + 8 ounces milk [I was watching the lines on the cup and took it home to measure, I'm not some weirdo who can gauge ounces while seeing them pour] + a bunch of ice. I tend to prefer more tea and ice and less milk. Suit yourself. But do try this, it's a delicious drink for summer!
It's funny, I tend to obsess over the beverage recipes I've shared on the blog and have tested them many many times. It can be fun, like the endless variations of Cheater Margarita Smoothies, or downright silly, like my Slow Cooker Apple Chai for a Crowd. Either way, the dogs are standing by to offer support.
Note: I like to make this in a regular mouth quart size canning jar. These handy storage caps (Amazon affiliate link) extend the usefulness of my canning jars while they are standing idly by waiting to be filled with canned tomatoes, stock, and kohlrabi pickles later this summer.
Iced Chai Tea Concentrate (makes 1 quart, enough for 4 glasses of Iced Chai Tea Latte)5 spiced chai tea bags (I use Bigelow and like both caff and decaf versions)
2 vanilla chai tea bags
2 - 4 peppercorns (I use Tellicherry peppercorns and prefer 2/quart)
4 - 6 teaspoons of sweetener (I like both caster sugar and honey)
In a 1 quart regular mouth canning jar or similar container place tea bags and peppercorns. Add water all the way to the top and set in a sunny place to steep for 30 minutes [to 4 hours if you get distracted]. Remove the tea bags (and peppercorns if you can fish them out), stir in sweetener, and chill.
When you're ready to drink fill a large (16 ounce) glass with ice. Add about 6 ounces of concentrate and top off with 2 ounces of milk (more or less to your taste). Stir. Serve. Repeat. Often.