I compared 5 brands of chai concentrate, and there are 2 worth keeping in your fridge at all times
I compared chai concentrates from Good & Gather, Oregon Chai, Trader Joe's, Rishi, and Tazo.
I used each to make hot & cold lattes and was surprised at how temperatures impacted my favorites.
Tazo's concentrate was my favorite for a hot chai latte, but Trader Joe's was the best iced.
I love a good chai latte, but I usually order it from cafés rather than making it at home.
Luckily, many brands offer easy-to-prepare chai concentrates, which are ideal for when I'm craving a hot tea in the morning or a refreshing iced latte during a warm afternoon. But chai can be tricky to get right since a tasty latte needs to balance sweetness and spice.
So, I tried chai concentrate from five different brands — Good & Gather, Oregon Chai, Trader Joe's, Rishi, and Tazo — to see how they compare when prepared hot and iced.
Here's how they stacked up and which made my favorite chai drinks.
The Good & Gather chai concentrate had a convenient container and was a great deal.
Good & Gather is a generic store brand from Target. This brand's chai concentrate comes in a 32-ounce container. It was the best value of the five I tested at $3.50 for this size, making it about 11 cents per ounce.
The best part of the chai was its clever slanted container, which made it so the tea didn't spill or make a mess as I poured it into a mug or glass.
For both the hot and iced lattes, I combined 4 ounces of this concentrate with 4 ounces of plain milk.
Prepared hot, the Good & Gather chai was very sweet.
I usually expect some spice in a chai beverage, but Good & Gather's iced chai had just the faintest aftertaste of black pepper.
The drink, when hot, mostly tasted like sweetened tea. It wasn't particularly heavy in cream or syrup and just tasted a bit watery.
With ice, the Good & Gather concentrate lost most of its flavor.
I expected the iced versions of these lattes to lose some of their potency, and that was definitely the case for the Good & Gather chai.
Its hint of black pepper and sweet taste were almost entirely lost when I combined the concentrate and milk over ice. It wasn't bad, but it did end up tasting pretty bland.
The Oregon Chai concentrate looked promising, as the label noted an "authentic Himalayan chai taste."
I hadn't tried the Oregon Chai brand before, but it looked promising. The label noted its rich and authentic flavors, featuring black tea, spices, and honey for sweetness.
This container, also 32 ounces, was originally $5, making it about 16 cents an ounce. I got it on sale for $4.
Similar to Tazo's and Rishi's containers, this design seemed better suited for stocking shelves than pouring.
It poured out messily as I combined 4 ounces of this concentrate with equal part milk.
The hot version of Oregon Chai had an earthy smell and sweet flavor.
I noticed this mix was much lighter in color than the Good & Gather concentrate, which made me wonder how strong or rich it would actually be.
As it turns out, Oregon Chai was strong in sweetener and not much else. There was really no spice, not even in the aftertaste. Overall, it just tasted like hot sweet tea.
When added to a glass of ice, the Oregon Chai was refreshing but lackluster.
I thought the resulting iced latte from Oregon Chai was simply fine: cold and a little sweet.
It was refreshing on a hot day, but overall, the flavor was quite bland to me. The earthiness was a little more present, but there was little sweetness and no spice.
Trader Joe's offered the cheapest concentrate it was also the smallest.
The spiced chai concentrate from Trader Joe's was unique for a lot of reasons.
It came in a bottle instead of a boxy container and was the smallest at only 16 ounces instead of 32 ounces like the other four I tested. This concentrate was the cheapest at $2.80, but when broken down, was about 18 cents per ounce.
This concentrate calls for a smaller ratio to milk, with one part chai to two parts milk, unlike the one-to-one ratios called for by the rest of the products I tried. I decided to use 4 ounces of the concentrate to 8 ounces of milk.
Combined with hot milk, the Trader Joe's chai had very strong spice flavors.
Even just opening the bottle, I knew this concentrate would bring way more heat. It smelled strongly of spice and had a really dark color that seemed to promise a robust flavor.
This concentrate tasted like black pepper first, followed by ginger. I didn't taste much of the milk or black tea.
I like a spicy chai, but this was a little overpowering when served hot. Next time, I'd prepare it with even more milk.
With ice, Trader Joe's chai was one of my favorite concentrates.
I still combined the 4 ounces of concentrate with 8 ounces of milk for the iced version of the Trader Joe's chai. I found that the addition of ice really balanced out the concentrate.
The result was a tea with a more proportional profile since the melting ice helped tame down all the spice. I actually ended up loving the Trader Joe's concentrate when combined with milk and ice.
Rishi's masala chai was one of the most expensive options.
I judged the book by its cover with Rishi, which came in a gorgeously designed container. It cost $6 — on sale for $4.80 — for the 32-ounce package. At 19 cents an ounce before the sale, this was pricier than the other brands I tested.
This concentrate called for a one-to-one concentrate-to-milk mixture, so I used 4 ounces of chai with 4 ounces of milk for both hot and iced, like the previous drinks. Between the shape of the container and the consistency of this concentrate, this one was the messiest and kept spilling out as I tried to pour it.
Although Rishi's chai was really sweet, I liked that it had more spice than the other brands.
The red-orange tone of this chai was interesting being that the other brands were more light to dark brown. It also smelled strongly like cinnamon, which was one of the leading ingredients.
This chai was incredibly sweet, and I liked the taste of cinnamon and cardamom in the hot version of the latte. It wasn't as spicy as the Trader Joe's concentrate, but it had more of a punch than the Good & Gather and Oregon Chai ones.
When I poured the Rishi concentrate over ice, I noticed some gritty bits that weren't very pleasant.
Despite thoroughly shaking the concentrate, some gritty pieces of spices ended up floating in the drink, which hadn't been noticeable in its hot counterpart.
The cinnamon flavor also worked better when served warm, so overall, this iced drink tasted average to me.
I've enjoyed Tazo's chai in the past, but it was a more expensive option.
I've purchased Tazo's chai concentrate a few times in the past and enjoyed it, but I hadn't realized how pricy it was when compared to some of the other brands.
This 32-ounce concentrate rang up at $5.19, which was the most expensive option after store discounts for the other products were applied. Still, it was 16 cents an ounce broken down which kept it on par with the other options.
I followed the same one-to-one ratio when preparing the Tazo chai.
The hot version of Tazo's chai was a perfect blend of sweet and spicy.
I really enjoyed the hot Tazo chai latte. It wasn't too sweet, and the spice was forward, but not overwhelming.
The concentrate and milk came together for a creamy consistency rather than a watery texture. This was my favorite hot chai that I tested.
I loved the iced version of Tazo's concentrate, but it wasn't my top pick.
Although Tazo took the spot for best hot chai latte, it wasn't my favorite of the iced chai drinks.
It was delicious, with sweetness and a hint of spice, but I found the super-strong Trader Joe's concentrate was perfect with ice. This one lost some of its flavor but was my second favorite for the iced drinks.
Tazo's concentrate was my favorite hot latte, and Trader Joe's took the top spot when prepared over ice.
The Tazo concentrate had a perfect blend of spices and sweetness that came through when hot, and the result was a nice, creamy latte. But a lot of its flavor was subdued when added to cold milk and ice.
Although I wasn't a fan of the Trader Joe's chai concentrate when prepared hot, I loved it with cold milk over ice. The extremely strong spices in the concentrate overpowered the other flavors when served warm, but they held up well to ice and offered a much better flavor.
All of these chai concentrates were good, and I wouldn't mind buying any of them again. But Tazo is my preferred brand for a hot chai latte, and I'll have to stop at Trader Joe's if I'm craving one iced.
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