Working With What You Have: Iced Chai Tea Latte

Here are some more ideas for delicious summer drinks!

I can remember my first-ever chai tea latte. It was a Saturday in the early spring of 1998, and I had a terrible cold. Feeling sick, I had played hooky from a friend’s bat mitzvah (this was seventh grade, when every weekend’s activity revolved around bar and bat mitzvahs), yet I was somehow up to joining my family on a shopping trip to the Upper West Side. Not only was my nose running but it was also raining out, and at last my family and my whiny thirteen year-old self took refuge in the local Starbucks. I think I ordered a chamomile tea, adding honey to it to soothe my poor throat. I took a sip, and my sense of smell and taste clogged by my sickness, I couldn’t taste a thing. I might as well have been drinking hot water, and I set my tea angrily down.

Someone else–maybe my older sister, Jill–ordered a chai tea latte, which can’t have been on Starbucks’ menu for very long at that point. I for one had never seen it, heard of it, or tried it. But unlike every other scent in the world that day, I could smell it. The mix of black tea, cinnamon, cloves, and other spices made its way through my stuffy nose, and it was like an epiphany.

Jill, fearless of contagiousness or perhaps looking to pawn her tea off, for unknown reasons, onto her little sister, let me have a sip. Like the smell, the taste got through to me too, and from that moment I was hooked. The one sip became several, and soon I had finished the whole cup, tasting every sip. It’s the kind of flavor mix that appeals to me–creamy, like ice cream, and spiced, like gingersnaps.

As the years went by, I drank a lot of Chai Tea Lattes, hot and cold. At some point, I got a little tired of paying so much for them, and I looked into making them at home.

Though chai tea at home is far better than chai tea bought at coffee shops, mostly because it’s less achingly sweet, it’s not really a production to make. In fact, like many of our Working With What You Have dishes on this site, it’s just about having a stocked pantry and spice rack. After that, all it really takes is a scant bit of motivation, which in my case was derived from the arrival of summer and the desire for something very cold to drink.

From my kitchen, brewin’ chai tea, to yours,



Iced Chai Tea Latte
Makes 1 drink


6 tablespoons Chai Tea Concentrate (recipe follows)
1 cup milk of your choice*

*If you use sweetened almond, soy, or rice milk, you may need to play around to make the concentrate less sugary. This recipe was developed using 2% milk.

Pour both the Chai Tea Concentrate and the milk into a glass, stirring to combine them. Add a large handful of ice, and drink immediately.

You can make this into a hot drink for winter by warming the milk and chai concentrate slowly in a small saucepan until very hot. Serve in a mug.

Chai Tea Concentrate
Makes 1 1/2 cups, enough for 4 lattes

3 tablespoons sugar
8 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick, snapped in half
1 slice ginger, peeled
5 whole cloves
4 whole black peppercorns
2 black teabags
1 tablespoon honey

Combine all ingredients except the honey in a pot. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower slightly and let simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat  and let steep for 5 minutes. Remove the teabags, squeezing out any liquid from them. Let the spices steep for another 15 minutes. Strain, removing all the spices. Add the honey and stir in. Taste, adding more honey if you like.

Cool completely.

The concentrate is easily doubled and will last a while in the fridge.


    • And then there’s no use for a lot of ice that would just add more water to your drink. I always freeze everything, like very ripened bananas, strawberries, etc., and then put them in a freezer bag until I’m ready to make me a nice and nutritious frozen drink… ohhh I love Chai Latte ;o)))~

  1. This sounds like an awesome recipe! I love chai tea!! so i will have to try this out 🙂
    thanks 🙂

  2. Thank you for spreading the chai love and explaining how you discovered this wonderful Indian drink.

    Our Drink Me Chai powder is instant chai at home!  Just add hot water or milk for an authentic taste.

    It can also be iced, as you suggest, and used in smoothies and milkshakes.

    More and more people are discovering the lush taste of chai and wanting to make it at home, or use it in baking cakes, breads, muffins etc.  

  3. when I made it I never used to add sugar, I left that to whoever was drinking it and we used to sometimes make it in the morning to drink cold in the evening too

  4.  This is FANTASTIC. I omit the honey, and I increase the ratio of chai to milk to 1:1, and it’s better than any iced chai latte I’ve ever paid money for.

    Thanks so much for the recipe!

  5. Do you think it would work well to use it for cookie, cake etc? If so, how would I go about doing that?

    • I would just eyeball it and taste until you get the desire flavor strength. I’ve started that way to a terrific spiced cake moist with plain or spiced rum ;o)~ Good luck with it and enjoy!

  6. i didnt have all of those ingredients for the chai concentrate, so made a chai tea simple syrup by steeping 3 bags of chai tea in 1/2 cup of water, then stirring in 1 cup of sugar!

  7. Hey! Absolutely love your blog! As someone from a chai-drinking culture I felt I had to add something here…
    So, Chai = Tea and Doodh(milk) Patti (Leaf) Chai (Tea) is your basic chai latte- Usually your best bet for this is to boil the spices in (whole) milk with about a teabag and a half per cup (trust me on this!). I usually just cut the teabags open and boil the whole thing if I don’t have loose black tea. Let it boil, reduce the heat, boil again. Strain and sweeten it as you like. (Usually the sugar is boiled with the rest of the tea, but this gives you more control)
    If you let it cool and shove it in the fridge for a bit, voila! Iced Chai Latte! 😀
    Enjoy! 😀

  8. Has anyone tried making a large batch of this to preserve?
    I like to use it in a pinch hot or cold, and I’m not sure the best way to keep it fresh for a while!
    I read the one about the ice cubes, and that would be great for iced, but I like hot chai lattes as well.

    Is there a way to can it to stay on the pantry shelf?

    • I like my hot chai latte fresh made from my little stainless steel glass teapot with a strainer filter. You can always make it very strong and leave it in the teapot at room temperature. Then froth some of your favorite milk and enjoy ;o)~

  9. I had my doubts, but this recipe is FANTASTIC! I didn’t have any cardamom pods, so I just used a half tsp of allspice. Next time I will have the pods on hand.

    • I buy my spices from Amazon… they have organic green cardamon pods for a reasonable price from trusted sellers.

  10. Great spice, but *way* too sweet for me and the 2:1 ratio of tea to milk is too milky. I love the idea of having the concentrate ready-made though, so next time would leave out all the sugar and only add the honey (might even cut that down a bit, depending on the results). Then the chai can be sweetened and milk added to taste when I make it up.

  11. I only have loose leaf tea. Can I use 4 spoons of tea leaves instead? And what about brown sugar instead of white. I usually use ten cloves when I make mine, and that’s just two cups worth, but I’ve found I really like the clovey (It’s a word!) flavour.

    • Yes, brown sugar is much, much better for you. Talking about the tea, may I use any kind of tea (not green, nor flavored), or is it have to be only black tea? Just a thought ;o)

  12. I just had my first iced chai latte using this recipe, and it was just fabulous! Like another commenter, I used a little bit higher chai-to-milk ratio, as 6 tbsp wasn’t quite enough chai for me.

  13. love the recipe. but did try the ratio of tea to milk and it was too little. I like it “spicy” as the Starbucks so maybe next time I’ll let it boil longer for a stronger taste of the concentrate. but it is good!!!! thanks!!!

  14. I found the 6 tablespoons to one cup of milk a tad weak, so it’s better for me to have about 6 tablespoons to 1/2 a cup of milk. I may try making the concentrate a tad stronger, like double strength. I think I just like my tea a bit stronger. It is sure tasty though. So nice to make it from scratch and not use chai tea bags! Thanks for this recipe!

  15. Considering I’m pretty much addicted to Big Train Chai Mix! I think I might have to cheat on them and give this a try. Glad I found your blog.

  16. Hi, the recipe sounds lovely! I have just one question, though – how big a slice of ginger should I use? Thanks!

  17. Do you think it would be possible to make the chai tea concentrate using loose leaf chai tea? Perhaps steeping it and letting it cool and then adding it to the milk + ice when you want the latte?

    • I think that’d be easy! You’d just want to have a fine sieve around to get rid of the leaves before you drink.

  18. I found that you can only actually taste the chai if you put in 12-14 tablespoons of the concentrate… Did anyone else find this?

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