Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chai Latte Concentrate - Oregon Chai Copycat

Yesterday, was a work related stress festival. Today was busy squared. It called for crock pot lite.  How hard could it be to dump spices and water in a crock, let it rip all day, add tea bags, and end up with Chai?  Confession: I have never had Chai.

A Mother Unit loves Chai.  She loves one brand so much that Offspring Units and Father Unit go on serious shopping expeditions to find the best deal on Oregon Chai Latte Concentrate (OCC).  I Google in vain to find a basic OCC spice list.  Other official crock pot Chai latte recipes are found, one by a published author.  No one raves about these.  Even published author admits hers is lousy.  Every crock recipe found has milk and tea in prolonged simmers. I roll my eyes.  Tea gets bitter when it steeps too long, and milk in the crock is a major cooking foul.  Even I know this.

Research continues.  Several conventional non-crock recipes are found. Each has different spices.  No liquid to spice ratios are similar.  A recipe by user name: "snob guy" is selected.  Ingredients are located and tossed in crock. Assembly: Less than 2 minutes.  Research: More than 3 hours.  Frenzied working to meet a real job deadline occurs because of time lost spinning wheels over Chai recipes. Hours later, during conversation with Mother Unit, the Chai project is mentioned. OCC research attempts are casually recounted.  Mother Unit says, "Oh, I have that recipe."


An email forward is received with "Paul's" purported OCC copycat recipe.  A comparison reveals "snob guy's" is not even close. "Paul's" copycat recipe is cheaper and simpler (if that is even possible).  The universal appeal of OCC is immediately apparent:  Honey Sugar Baby Palooza!  More Chai is started in another crock.  A 24 hour market receives a crazy sum for a box of OCC to be used in comparison taste tests.  Hours later, there is a taste test. Spot on. 

Tomorrow I will hunt, shoot, dress out, and butcher a buck.  I will make Venison Wellington with puff pastry made from scratch.  Dessert will include hand crafted spun sugar bird nests inhabited by assorted varieties of wild birds fashioned from homemade marzipan, air brushed for detail.  Tomorrow compared to today will be "lite".

Winner, Loser, or Meh

If you love Oregon Chai Latte Concentrate, you are going to love this.  If you love to save money, you are going to love this. I love this.  It's my new favorite drink for the winter.

My cost per quart: $1.46.
OCC Walmart cost per quart: $3.25
OCC 24 hour grocery store cost per quart: $4.25

Note: My spices are alphabetized. My pantry is very organized. It saves serious time. Always.

Personal time spent assembling, straining, doing dishes, and storing batch:  10 minutes (actually less).
How much is Walmart and OCC charging to provide boxed convenience: $10.86 per hour.
How much is 24 hour grocer and OCC charging  to provide boxed convenience: $16.86 per hour


I used a 1 1/2 quart crock pot for this

  • 4   1  1/2 inch slices fresh peeled ginger, use vegetable peeler for the slices.
  • 2   2 inch cinnamon sticks (I get mine in bulk bins)
  • 8   whole cloves (I get mine in bulk bins)
  • 15-20 green cardamon pods or 2 heaping demitasse spoons powdered cardamon (I used pods from bulk)
  • 2    6 inch vanilla beans, cut into 1 inch pieces OR 2 cap fulls non alcohol vanilla extract (I used extract & 1/2 a very ancient dried petrified vanilla bean )
  • 10   twists nutmeg mill or 2 dashes of nutmeg (I used nutmeg mill)
  • 2    Tbsps sugar, heaping (I used organic pure cane)
  • 1/2 cup honey (I used organic clover)
  • 4   cups water
  • 6   Bigelow Darjeeling Blend tea bags, or other black tea bag (I used Tetley Decaf - Do I sound like a woman who needs more caffeine?)
Put everything except the tea bags into the crock pot.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 7-8 hours (I cooked for 3 1/2 hours on high). After long simmer, if heat is not on high turn to high.  Add tea bags.  Let steep for 5-10 minutes. Remove tea bags and press with spoon to get all water out.  Pour crock contents over strainer into 1 quart resealable beverage container.  Add water to make 1 quart.  This will get you what comes in the box pictured above.  Serve (see below) or store in fridge.
  • Milk, full fat, 2%, 1% or soy, whatever turns you on (I used organic 1%)
To make iced or hot Chai Latte, add equal parts concentrate to milk and serve over ice or heat in microwave or use conventional steamer.


  1. This turned out really good! My sister and her kids stopped by and it was gone, in fact the 4 year old was whining pretty loud because there was no more. I'll make it again. I too has some very ancient dried petrified vanilla beans that were perfect to use in this recipe. Yummy.

  2. Hi, I tried this and boy, it turned out great very first time. I can't believe my luck in finding your blog. Thanks so much from one grateful Kiwi in New Zealand : )

    I'm going to save a fortune now - no more expensive cafes.

  3. I just made this for myself! So yummy, and I am drinking a just-warm chai latte...yes, it's July, thanks for asking.... :) I anticipate my milk consumption going way up thanks to this!

  4. Thanks so much! I can't wait to test this out tonight. I work in a cafe and we have been using Oregon Chai but then switched to Tazo because the Oregon was much more expensive.

  5. You don't have to make this in the crock pot. You can do this by rapidly boiling the water and doing a steep process, but since this is a crock pot blog I did a crock pot version.

  6. Do you know how long it keeps? Refridgerate? I'm thinking x-mas gifts...

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. i made this for my niece and left it in the fridge for a month before we made it all the way through and it still tasted great!

  7. Definitely refridgerate. Not sure how long it keeps. It has never lasted long enough for me to find out.

  8. Absolute WIN indeed. As a former Stateside cafe manager who's been living in Australia for the last 8+ years, I'd finally let go of the great taste and associated memories of Oregon Chai - until tonight when I made up a batch of this recipe! Finished product came up fantastic using the froth wand on the espresso machine - just like (or better) then my memory of OC and perfectly timed as we are at the peak of 'winter' here at the moment.
    I don't have a crock pot nor the patience for one, but instead boiled the concoction and then simmered for about an hour before adding the tea for a 10+ minute steep.
    My only complaint is that a single vanilla bean here was the better part of $6.00?! (>_<) Off to the markets this weekend then in search of a bulk supplier ..
    Thanks again for sharing your findings!

  9. Oh my word.....I love you for this. I'm going to try this. I've recently moved and not been able to find Oregan Chai up here yet. If this works, I will be beyond happy. That stuff is expensive, and Tazo isn't even close. *Chrissy*

  10. This looks great, I can't wait to try it! I prefer the slightly sweet Oregon Chai. Does anyone know how much to modify the sugar and/or honey to replicate that?

  11. I, too, prefer the lightly sweet version, so I looked up the sugar content of both the regular and the lightly sweet, and it's about 18 grams vs. 7 grams of sugar per 4 oz of concentrate. So my guess is to reduce the sweeteners by half or less and that should do the trick. Maybe 1 level Tbsp of sugar and maybe a little less than 1/4 c of honey. Or just leave the sweeteners out altogether and add it in when you make your drink each time to your liking. But then again, leaving it out may affect the overall flavors and how they mingle together as they cook. Anyone have any thoughts on that?

  12. I cannot wait to try this!! Now I just have to buy the ginger. All we have on hand is the candied stuff :-/

  13. pinned it
    made it
    tasted it
    served it to all my friends!
    we all loved it!
    making it again today!

  14. Would changes should I make to make a double recipe?

  15. Great, tastes like the real thing! Have made it a few times now. When you say you used bulk cardamom pods, do you crack or crush them a little to expose the seeds inside a bit, or do keep them whole / intact?

  16. As an OC Addict for the past 17 years, you have saved my life and eliminated my connection. I can now make my drink of choice at home and also save my budget.

    Thanks so very much.

  17. do you have a vegan recipe?

  18. Do you have a vegan version of this recipe?

  19. Can someone further describe the ginger pieces needed? Thanks!