What is a Tea Concentrate?
Quite simply, a tea concentrate is a very, very strong tea meant to be diluted when you're ready to consume it. Many people are familiar with chai concentrates, but you can do this with any type of tea. When you're ready to drink a cup, just fill your cup with about 1/3 tea concentrate and 2/3 steamed milk for a latte or boiling water for a regular cup of tea. You can use the same ratio (1:2) when making any food dish (like Green Tea Rice) with boiling water.
Why Make a Tea Concentrate?
There are several reasons why you'd want to make a tea concentrate, but for me, it really boils down to three reasons: speed, cooking, and drinking.
Speed: Sometimes my three year old wakes up at 5:00 am and is ready to party. Unfortunately, my brain is not. More than once I've made a nice cup of coffee and left out the espresso... effectively drinking hot milk. A black tea concentrate saves the day for me in this situation. By making a larger batch of concentrated tea, I can store it in the fridge, pour a little in a cup, and add some hot water to balance it out. If I've pre-sweetened the concentrate, it's an easy process for my not-yet-awake brain.
Cooking: Tea is incredibly healthy for you! So if you're trying to incorporate more tea into your diet, consider making a tea concentrate that pairs well with a regular staple meal. For instance, if you eat a lot of rice, make a green tea concentrate for green tea rice or fried rice. Hope Blend Green Tea is a great candidate for this as it's a complex but well-balanced traditional tea.
Drinking: Plum Deluxe has some pretty fantastic blends that lend well to cocktails. Green tea shots are a fun and quick drink when you have some green tea concentrate on hand. If you're making drinks for a group or simply want to have the ingredients for your favorite on standby, a tea concentrate is the way to go. Try experimenting with tea cocktails! Here's a great guide on what liquor goes with tea.
How to Make a Tea Concentrate
The easiest way to make a concentrate is to make it the same way you already make your tea. This way, you won't have to figure out a new method. Just add 2-3 times as much tea as you normally use. For instance, if you use 1 teaspoon for 8 ounces of water, simply use 2 teaspoons for 8 ounces of water instead. Now you have two to three future cups of tea made at once.
Depending on how much tea concentrate you're making, you may need to use a regular pot on the stove instead of a tea kettle. Simply boil as much water as desired and put in the correct amount of tea to equal 2 teaspoons for every 8 ounces of water. (4 teaspoons for 16 ounces of water, 8 teaspoons for 32 ounces of water etc). Steep tea as you normally would according to the tea type and regular steep time, then strain the leaves. Allow to cool, and store remainder in the fridge for up to a week.
Any type of tea will do here, so pick your favorite! Better yet, if you feel a cold coming on, make a whole batch of Self Care Blend tea concentrate so you can just pour from the fridge, add boiling water, and head back to bed.
Cold Brew Method
Cold brewing tea has several benefits and makes for a great option for all teas, but especially black teas. Simply put the desired amount of tea into a cold storage container, fill it with water, and put it in the fridge overnight.
Black teas will get bitter when over-steeped in hot water, but they will end up perfectly smooth in cold water despite the extra time. Bonus, you can even steep them a second time (something I don't usually prefer doing with black teas). If you're new to cold brewing, our article on how to brew tea in cold water is everything you need to know to make the perfect cup.
I tried the Coconut A La Creme black tea for this one since it's nice and fresh and easy to add to refreshing cocktails.
Instant Pot Method
Why would you make tea concentrate in the Instant Pot versus one of the other methods? You get a strong yet smooth taste that's different than the others. Simply use the same proportions as above – 2:1 or 3:1 – and cook under high pressure for 4 minutes with a natural release. The natural release portion is very important. If you quick release your tea, the internal temperature will shoot up and boil your leaves, making them bitter. With a natural release, they're less likely to boil.
For this one, I chose to use the Stargazer Caramel Mate Chai because the Instant Pot really makes the caramel flavor shine with a smooth balance of spice. You can even try out three perfect chai cocktails with your concentrate!
A note about sweetener: If you're going to sweeten your concentrate, make sure to sweeten it much more than you would a normal cup of tea since you will be diluting this concentrate before you drink it. If you've made enough concentrate for eight cups of tea, sweeten the concentrate eight times more than you would a single cup.