How to CookTea

Homemade Vanilla Bean Chai Syrup

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It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Lillie Auld of Butter Me Up Brooklyn is condensing all the flavors of your favorite chai into a spicy-sweet syrup you can use in your tea or coffee anytime.

Vanilla Bean Chai Syrup from Food52

When we enter firmly into the stretch of January, February, and March, I am always on the lookout for new recipes to add to my warm beverage repertoire. Last year, I was thrilled when I came across the unbelievably simple idea -- you know, the kind that makes you think, why didn't I think of that?! -- for chai syrup in a newspaper in Oregon (and Oregon knows chai). I couldn't wait to give it a go. 

More: Hot drinks to keep you warm.

The original recipe called for a timid amount of simple spices. I found that I wanted more kick, so I added double the amount of spice along with the seeds from a whole vanilla bean and a hint of white pepper and ginger. The recipe couldn't be easier: Mix sweetened condensed milk with practically all the contents of your spice cabinet. But when a spoonful or two is stirred into a hot cup of black tea the result is spicy and milky-sweet. It will keep in the fridge for six months, but I can say from experience it won't last that long.

Vanilla Bean Chai Syrup

Makes about 1 3/4 cups

14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons ground cardamon
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped


In a medium bowl mix together sweetened condensed milk, spices, and vanilla bean seeds until combined.

Transfer syrup to a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid and store in the fridge for up to six months.

To serve, stir a spoonful or two of syrup into a cup of hot black tea.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Lillian Auld

Tags: DIY Food, How-To & Diy, Small Batch