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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Make It Yourself: Chai Latte

At Starbucks and other upscale  coffee joints, chai lattes provide a lower-caffeine alternative to espresso drinks, but they're very expensive. Although you can buy boxes of chai concentrate, these are also overpriced and usually way too sweet.

It's very easy to make your own chai—and your own concentrate, for that matter. All you need is tea, fresh ginger, chai spice, milk, and a strainer.

We like Brooke Bond's loose Red Label tea, but you can use plain teabags if that's all you've got. You can even use prespiced tea, if you're feeling extra-lazy. But it's also easy to make your own chai mix:

Chai recipes vary, but usually contain a mix of ground cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger, allspice, coriander, and a little black pepper. Experiment to get the mix you like—say, using equal amounts of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger, and allspice, half as much coriander, and a touch of pepper. Keep an ongoing jar of spice mix and adjust it as you like. (We think Starbucks' version is way too heavy on the cloves and way too light on the ginger, but this is strictly a matter of taste.) You'll only need about a quarter teaspoon or so for each batch of chai that you make.

Once you've got the spice mix, you're ready to make your lattes. This recipe from Dhyanyoga Centers tells you how to make a good couple of cups. If you want concentrate for future batches, simply make more of the basic water/spice/ginger/tea mix, and set it aside; when you want chai, just add milk and heat.

A homemade chai latte costs a fraction of the $4.50 and up that Starbucks charges, and if you keep a container of the concentrate on hand, you can make a quick cup in much less time than it would take you to grab the car keys and head to a store.


  1. Great call - an you're totally right!

  2. Homemade Chai is also a Godsend if you are lactose intolerant. Just make it with Lactaid or similar lactose-free milk. You can also use decaffeinated tea if caffeine is on your list of things to avoid. You can get excellent quality decaffeinated teas these days. Try the teas they have at Harney & Sons: