Spicy Chai Concentrate – You’ll never drink plain old tea again

Since moving away from Portland this Fall, there is something I can’t get here that I miss dearly. It’s a cup of spicy black Dragonfly Chai – a brand that was made locally and not sold in other states. You could buy the liquid concentrate in bottles at the co-ops and at New Seasons (ok, I miss that place too), and it was served at many Portland coffee shops as well.  The reason I was so obsessed was because it’s not too sweet, and it’s very spicy. So if you like chai on the sweeter side and don’t like spice, stick to brands like Tazo or Oregon Chai for your concentrates. But if you’re into mega-spice…read on.

To feed my addiction, I did what I had to and recreated this recipe to get my fix. I looked at the ingredients on the label and decided I could just make it myself! I steeped all these spices – but added enough other ingredients that it’s my version. I’ll call it the Karen’sfly Spicy chai! eh? Catchy, right?

Recipe tip 1:  I had loose-leaf holy basil tea but you can use any black tea you want. Loose or in tea bags. I used loose. But you do you.

Recipe tip 2: Get experimental! Use whatever spices you have around and see how it turns out. This is a great use for spices that sit around in the cabinets (at least in non-holiday months) like cardamom, allspice and nutmeg. They also don’t have to be whole – you can throw in ground spices if that’s all you have, but whole is better if you don’t like debris in your tea.

*Makes a little more than a 32 oz mason jar of concentrate – with about a cup-full to spare, so you can try your creation and save the rest. The concentrate keeps for a couple weeks in the fridge.


  • 6 cups water
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 5 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 2 vanilla beans (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 2 tsp whole cloves
  • 2 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 tablespoons black loose-leaf tea (or 5 tea bags)
  • 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • Non-dairy milk of choice

Steeping Instructions

  1. Bring water to boil and add honey or other sweetener – mix until dissolved. Add sliced gingerand all spices that are in powdered form, and then put all whole spices in mesh strainer. Simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes.
  2. Remove strainer full of spices, turn off heat and add tea bags. Seep tea bags for another 20 minutes.  Pour everything through strainer into a mason jar (if you don’t have a good way to keep tea bags from falling into the pot, you can steep the bags in the jar with the lid on to hold the tea bags up).
  3.  Serve with milk or milk alternative. About 2/3 cup chai mix to 1/3 cup milk, depending on your preferences. Can be served plain as well for a very strong cup of tea!

For the chai lovers in your life, a mason jar of this concentrate makes a great gift idea. Disclaimer: regular green tea will seem really boring now so you may never go back. You’ve been warned.


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