Tuesday, March 31, 2020

How to Make Chai Tea Concentrate for Homemade Iced Chai

How to Make Chai Tea Concentrate for Homemade Iced Chai

Make your own DIY Chai concentrate and treat yourself to a fancy iced sipper while giving your wallet--and your stovetop--a break! This recipe uses the sun and then the Instant Pot to create 6 quarts of chai concentrate from only 16 tea bags.


image of a glass of iced chai with a bottle of chai concentrate, an Instant Pot, a bottle of simple syrup, and a jug of milk.



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I first shared this recipe nearly 5 years ago. I make it multiple times a week, year round, because I can guzzle iced chai during a polar vortex as well as during a heat wave. I thought I was being pretty frugal by making my own drink--then I took it to another level.

Last summer, after reading about making tea in an Instant Pot in one of my pressure cooker cookbooks from the library, I decided to experiment.

Instead of throwing the teabags from my half gallon of sun chai directly into the compost bucket or worm bin, I put them in my Instant Pot then added a gallon of water and made an additional batch of Chai concentrate.

It was delicious! Out of used tea bags I got twice the volume of chai tea concentrate with a smooth, rich flavor and intense color. That experiment worked so well that it became the most frequent recipe I make in my Instant Pot--and the simplest!

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Make your own DIY Chai concentrate and treat yourself to a fancy iced sipper while giving your wallet--and your stovetop--a break! This recipe uses the sun and the Instant Pot to create 6 quarts of chai concentrate.



The only drawback to this is the time it takes to make the tea. I need a gallon of water to come to a boil so it can take a good 30 to 40 minutes for my 6 quart Instant Pot to get up to pressure. Since I don't want to quickly release pressure on a Pot so filled with liquid (mind you, 1 gallon = 4 quarts which means I'm still only ⅔ full and at the PC Max line in my 6 quart IP) I let the pressure naturally release which, again, can take upwards of 30 to 40 minutes.


So yes, this is not an "Instant" recipe as it takes a good 90 minutes start to finish--but I'm re-using the tea bags and the water came out of the tap, so it's a very good value for my time and 1 minute of effort to set it up.

photo of a glass of iced chai and the ingredients used to make it at home


I usually make it in the morning when I am not otherwise using my IP for anything and when I can swing by to turn off the IP once the pressure cook time has completed.

Turning off the Instant Pot, instead of having it revert to the Keep Warm setting, helps the pressure to release a titch faster--although we're talking maybe a 10 minute reduction in the hour to hour and an half total time.

Still, once you've strained the tea into your container (I use a couple of half gallon sized wide mouth canning jars) it's ready for you whenever you want an iced chai!


This concentrate will not make an exact replica of the Iced Chai Tea Latte I have at fancy coffee stores. I wanted something a touch less sweet and with less caffeine since I'm drinking upwards of a quart per day. I deliberately try remembering to sub in a glass of water in between refills.
I rarely succeed.

image of the types of teas used to make homemade iced chai tea concentrate


After all this experimenting I've come up with a list of 6 Do's and Don'ts of making your own Iced Chai Tea Latte at home. I'm happy to share them with you!

#1 Do use a blend of chai tea flavors.

I chose to use chai teas that I could easily find at all the grocery stores I frequent. 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 using half Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice and half (usually) Bigelow Vanilla Chai because I like it and it's easiest to find. I stretch this out with some plain black tea bags, both caffeinated and decaf.


#2 Do add peppercorns to your blend. If you like.

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.

image of Sun Chai tea steeping in a half gallon canning jar
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.


photo comparing the look of chai tea steeped in the sun vs chai tea prepared in the pressure cooker

#4 Save your teabags and reuse them in the Instant Pot.

Yeah, this is the crazy part. I prefer sun tea to boiled water tea, true, but when you reuse the bags to make more tea in a pressure cooker, the resulting tea is very smooth and flavorful! When water heats up under pressure it is actually at a more gentle simmer than a vigorous boil of an open kettle--and allowing the pressure to release naturally keeps this tea steeping gently.


image of an up cycled hummingbird feeder made of a chandelier and teacups in saucers
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.

#5 Do add some sort of sweetener to your glass.

I used to add some sugar or honey to the half gallon jars of tea but nowadays I keep a bottle of simple syrup in the fridge and add a splash to each glass. How do you make simple syrup? It's really . . . uh . . . simple. The official recipe is equal parts sugar and water heated in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves (usually about 5 minutes over medium heat).

For a while I combined 1 cup white sugar + ¼ cup packed brown sugar with 1¼ cups water for my simple syrup. I decided to cut back to ⅔ cup white sugar + ⅓ cup packed brown sugar in 1¼ cups water. I like the addition flavor of the brown sugar, but you do you. If you have a handy 16 oz glass bottle with a reusable cap (like my old Grolsch beer bottle) this makes a great storage container for simple syrup.


If you don't want to make your own simple syrup and just want to add sugar to the half gallon containers of tea, go ahead! 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 which is a nice easy 2 Tablespoons per quart.

That's 4 Tablespoons of sugar for each half gallon jar. 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.

#6 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!

photo of 2 dogs curled up on a kitchen rug


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.


I'm sharing more recipes on my Pinterest boards, follow me there. If you like a good peek behind the scenes like I do, follow me on Instagram. Need a good read? I'm sharing articles of interest on my Facebook page, follow me there. Want to know How to Use This Blog?




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http://www.farmfreshfeasts.com/2015/06/dos-and-donts-of-diy-iced-chai-tea.html www.farmfreshfeasts.com


Make your own DIY Chai concentrate and treat yourself to a fancy iced sipper while giving your wallet--and your stovetop--a break! This recipe uses the sun and the Instant Pot to create 6 quarts of chai concentrate.

16 comments:

  1. This looks great for summer! I have s friend who doesn't like coffee, so this would be great to have when she's over!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beth,
      As someone who's not a coffee drinker, thank you so much for thinking of your friend. I really appreciate it when I'm invited somewhere and a friend has taken the time to think about non-coffee alternatives (though I carry a few tea bags in my purse and am always happy to have a glass of cold water).
      Thanks!

      Delete
  2. I'm addicted to Starbuck's chai lattes as well, so this looks like a good weekend project!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It just kills me to pay that much money for something I can make at home! Though I do love the fluffy rich whole milk and sprinkle of cinnamon at the top, so when I am out with friends I do indulge.
      Thanks!

      Delete
  3. I fell in love with Chai when an Indian friend of mine taught me how to do it. I will apply your techniques to his recipe and perhaps even add some peppercorn! Love this for a summer drink!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Abby,
      It's so yummy, I can see why you fell in love! I find myself drinking this year round. It's helping me to kick my soda cravings when I want something cold and sweet and hot tea won't cut it.
      Thanks!

      Delete
  4. Chai is the one tea I enjoy. Thanks for t\he tips!

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    Replies
    1. Ashley,
      If you're only going to pick one tea, chai is a pretty good one. Warm or cold it delivers.
      Thanks!

      Delete
  5. I love Chai tea.I usually drink it only in the winter to warm up, I haven't had an iced one before. Will have to try!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Des,
      I find myself the opposite, I rarely drink my chai warm. I should try that more often in winter, but I don't want my Lady Grey and her Earl to be offended.
      Thanks!

      Delete
  6. This would be so perfect for the insanely hot summer we're having so far here in Virginia! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liz,
      This is a very refreshing drink--great in summer (and so easy to make with a sunny day).
      Thanks!

      Delete
  7. I have to try this! I am always looking for variations of ice tea to have in the fridge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pam,
      I had been a peach iced tea gal, but always with some powdered tea + tea bags because the tea bags alone didn't cut it for me. Now I reserve my flavored iced teas for restaurants. Works for me--I like the variety.
      Thanks!

      Delete
  8. Great tips and perhaps the kind of summer drinking I should take up, when compared with other boozehound ways. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Meghan,
      You can be a booze hound any way you like. As long as you're being responsible about it you're good to go!
      Thanks!

      Delete