Curing my Starbucks addiction with homemade iced chai

I am a ‘caffiend.’ This made-up word is how I often refer to myself in the context of my ongoing caffeine addiction, which I attempt to break every few months. I have been unable to do so completely, but when I found out I was going to be a mom, I knew I definitely needed to cut back. I went from brewing full pots of coffee, which I would finish throughout the day after Ian left for work, to brewing half-pots, which I wouldn’t touch. The advent of spring and summer helped immensely, but it also turned my focus to iced coffees and other similar beverages at Starbucks, which left a pretty hefty dent in my weekly budget, particularly after an umbilical hernia forced me to stop working.

One of my favorite beverages at Starbucks is an iced chai latte. Made by blending milk with a syrup of brewed black tea, honey and an assortment of spices, poured over ice, it’s a great pick-me-up for any time of the day that leaves me feeling invigorated, even as the fatigue of my eighth month of pregnancy sets in. However, with the hit my finances have taken due to not being able to work, I wanted to find a cheaper way to get my fix. Starbucks markets a version of their chai, available in cartons at their stores as well as on many grocery store shelves, that is a much more economical option. Still, I wanted to try to make my own — not only for the sake of thrift, but because I can barely remember to get the things I need when I go grocery shopping, even with a list, let alone the things that I just want.

Being able to make my own iced chai hasn’t kept me away from Starbucks, just like making our own pizza at home didn’t keep Ian and me from grabbing a pie in the North End of Boston this weekend; even if you can make something really well in your own kitchen, there’s going to be someone else out there who has a version you like just as much, if not more. Not to mention, it’s always nice to let someone else make your dinner or brew your coffee once in a while, so take this not as a substitute for Starbucks’ beverage, but a supplement to help you stretch your budget between visits, as it has been for me.

Most of the “copycat” recipes I found online for making chai syrup called for plain black tea and a number of spices (most of which I do actually have on hand at any given time) but in the interest of keeping it simple, and because I had a box of Stash chai teabags in my cupboard, I decided to allow the professionals to blend my spices for me. You can also use this syrup to make a hot beverage, if you are able to steam or otherwise heat your milk, and I bet it would also be fairly amazing blended into a vanilla milkshake, or drizzled on top of ice cream.

Photo by Ian J. Marquis, 2014.

Photo by Ian J. Marquis, 2014.

Chai Syrup

  • 15 chai teabags (I prefer Stash or Tazo)
  • 5 cups boiling water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

In a saucepan, steep teabags in boiling water for 20 minutes. Remove bags and add sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce liquid by half. Store in a tightly-sealed container in the refrigerator. To serve as an iced beverage, pour a few tablespoons over ice in a tall glass, and top off with your choice of milk.

For more recipes from my kitchen to yours, please visit

Fia Fortune

About Fia Fortune

Fia Fortune is a home cook who enjoys gardening, creating recipes for her two blogs, cooking for herself and her boyfriend, and trying to keep up with their blended family of four cats.