Best teacher gift ever: Homemade chai concentrate

Who doesn't love chai? NOONE. That's who.

Chai is the humble-but-sublime mixture of strong black tea, milk, sugar and spices. You may have already drunk something approximating chai at your local coffeehouse, but, let me assure you, freshly-made chai is so much better. And don't even get me started on the abomination that is the "chai tea latte." But I digress.

While this recipe isn't exactly authentic, the results are so delicious and the preparation is so quick, it's worth it. Just stir a teaspoon of this lovely mixture into a cup of freshly-brewed black tea and you'll be in heaven. And so will any teacher (or babysitter, or friend) lucky enough to get this as a holiday gift.

Your kids can even make this themselves! Killer spoon-licking.

Grab the ingredients this week while baking supplies are on sale for Thanksgiving. Spices are cheapest when purchased in bulk.

(adapted from a recipe I read in The Oregonian)

1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
1 t. ground cardammom
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
(if you like it really sweet, add up to 1 t. sugar)

Mix everything and store in the refrigerator. Pour into a pretty jar for giving — a small, glass mason jar with a plastic storage cap works perfectly. The mixture will keep, refrigerated, for six months.

To make a cup of chai, brew a cup of strong, black tea (Assam, English Breakfast, or whatever black teabag you've got). Stir in a teaspoon or so of chai concentrate (more to taste). Enjoy.

More: How to organize a holiday gift for your kid's teacher


  1. says

    Sounds great and while Chai isn’t a hit in Germany (yet), I will definitely make this for myself!

    (Asha, I owe you a review of that children’s work book “When you grumble too much”. I haven’t forgotten but life’s crazy right now. Is it okay sometime, um, before Christmas?)

  2. says

    No rush, in fact if you’re pressed for time, that’s fine, too. I’m glad you mentioned it, because I wanted to thank you — I went out and bought the entire series for my own kids! I’ll be able to write my own review soon enough. They are amazing books.

  3. Heidi says

    I just clicked on the link to The Oregonian and it says it can be stored in the fridge for up to 6 mos. HTH

  4. says

    I was just looking for a recipe like this so that I could adjust the amounts of spices. And I love having a quick, easy concentrate for hectic mornings! Thanks!

  5. Carolyn says

    I love this idea, but won’t it go bad over the course of the school day? Wouldn’t one have to instruct the teacher to refrigerate immediately (which seems a bit much to ask on busy school morning)?

    Even if I delivered later in the day, it could still wind up sitting unrefrigerated for a couple of hours in a teacher’s bag.

    How are people dealing with this? I’m thinking of giving it as a kit.

  6. Christine says

    I am one of those few people who do not like Chai. I just wanted to put that two cents in. Check with your teachers first to see if they like it, before you give it to them.

  7. GS says

    Hah, if I had to check with every teacher about what they did or didn’t like (and when I taught, if every parent was running ideas by me) nothing on the planet would get done in a timely fashion. If they don’t like it, a well-mannered teacher will smile, thank the kiddo, and pass it on to someone who does. Just like I did with the 8 million teacher-themed mugs, appley notepads, scented lotions (I’m allergic to those), cookies from dubious sources, etc.

    I made this yesterday after reading about it, and it’s delicious. I don’t know if I’ll make it as a gift, but we’re enjoying it in my house! Thank you for the recipe!

  8. says

    Can this concentrate be used in coffee beverages as well (i.e. a mocha chai)? I have an espresso machine and love chai flavored coffees, but don’t want to buy a concentrate full of artificial flavorings.

  9. says

    What a great idea – love chai, spend tons of money on buying it and panic when there is none left in the cupboard. Sorry, can’t write any longer – have to go and try it out :D