Whilst I know that this is a writing blog, part of writing (for me anyway) is drinking copious amounts of tea. My friend Rhea and I have been talking about how on earth to recreate a Starbucks Chai Latte at home. It’s important to me because I spend entirely too much money on these addictive drinks. In the winter, they warm me up, in the summer they cool me down (oh, an iced latte is heavenly!) and give me a jolt year round. Love, love, love. But leaving the house to purchase them means I am not getting as much work done as I should be. Plus, I am not a high powered executive, so spending all that money is not great for me either.
Now, the problem with re-creating these is that Starbucks uses a concentrated liquid, a flavor shot if you will, to make this drink. And yes, I suppose you could do some google hunting and purchase this flavor shot and a milk steamer and an espresso machine and so on, but you want one right now (I know I do) and so, let’s pretend that this isn’t an option and move on from there.
What I currently have in my kitchen to work with: Tazo Decaffeinated Chai Tea bags, Tetley Black Tea Bags, Splenda, water, and milk. I wish my chai tea had caffeine, but it doesn’t. I don’t suppose it matter either way, since my black tea does.
Here’s exactly what I did to make it taste JUST like my Starbucks baby:
With a medium to large sauce pan (the one I originally used was too small and my milk boiled over the edges. Avoid that, it’s messy), put about a cup of water and two chai tea bags and one black tea bag in and bring to a slow boil. I let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
The simmering is super super important because you are making your own tea concentrate basically. The water should half and the tea remaining should be super dark. To this, add about three tablespoons of Splenda (if you are using sugar, I guess you need more? my mom says Splenda is sweeter than sugar) and a bit more water…I eyeballed it, but maybe a 1/3 cup of water. (PS, the tea bags are still in there!).
Keep simmering until the water steams away again and the liquid in your sauce pan is thicker. It;s not going to look like a syrup or anything, but if you really wanted to, you could keep adding sugar and water, slowly, until it does look a like a syrup. I just found this wasn’t necessary for my purposes. But maybe if you wanted to make a lot to use up later on, this would be a good idea. I just didn’t do it, so I can’t tell you if it works).
This whole time, I didn’t really have to pay any attention to it, because I kept the heat low and put it in a pretty good sized sauce pan. If you wanted to make it for more people, I would honestly say you don’t need to add a lot more tea bags, just another chai one and another black one, because you are simmering it so much and for so long that it starts to get very very strong. Obviously.
The only part you have to pay very close attention to the pot is the next step, because it involves boiling milk.
So check the amount of liquid in the pot. Again, I just eyeballed things, but for two cups of chai tea, which is what I ended up with, you want the concentrated tea to be at about 1/2 cup and then I added another 1/2 cup of water. Then I added about 1/3 cup of milk (I used 2 %) and brought to a boil. Then I quickly removed from the heat.
Then, because the tea bags had broken (all the boiling really destroys those bags), I used a small strainer and poured the liquid equally between two mugs. There was some left over and I just topped off the mugs later.
The milk will NOT be super super foamy, sorry. That’s what happens when you don’t have a steamer. But it does taste exactly like the one I always order. You could always buy one of these frother things, which my old flatmate Damon used to have at my place in Edinburgh. It’s nice to use with coffee and stuff, but if you use it, it does get a bit complicated because you sort of have to choose between having foam on the top or having the milk mixed in really well into the latte. I prefer to boil the milk with the tea because it makes it taste like Starbucks. But you could always do a mix of the two…
It does take a good bit of work, but I think I could just make a larger batch next time and leave the extra in a tea pot that will keep it warm and then just microwave any future cups.
I also like the idea of making a tea syrup to use as well, so maybe I will test that one out next time I have a bit of time to kill. Like next time I have some writing to get done ;)