Chai latte is a sweet spiced-infused drink that is fancy, comforting and will warm you up. Even if you're not fond of spiced drinks, we guarantee that this flavourful milk tea is worth trying. We've seen our friends and families fall in love with it repeatedly.
With the use of natural spices, it can help improve digestion and wake you up. Instead of constantly stopping by Starbucks for this tea concoction, we decided to learn how to make chai latte. And we're glad to say we've finally mastered the art of making it using our improved recipe.
After playing with different spices and milk, we found our perfect magical mix. However, we've included some alternative ingredient ratios to customise them easily. Our easy chai latte recipe also uses natural sweeteners, making it a healthier alternative to the ones you see in coffee shops.
You don't have to go to Starbucks for a fanciful chai latte anymore. Instead, with just a few ingredients, you can effortlessly make a chai tea latte at home that’s healthy and more fragrant.
- What is a chai latte?
- Does chai latte have caffeine?
- Chai latte calories
- Homemade chai latte ingredients
- How to make chai tea latte from scratch
- Different Milk with Chai Latte
- Frothy foam-topped chai latte
- How long does it take to steep chai latte?
- How to make chai latte with tea bags and chai concentrate
- Homemade Chai Latte Recipe (Hot or Iced)
What is a chai latte?
Chai latte is made of black tea, spices like cinnamon, ginger, peppercorns, and cardamom, and a sweet syrup served with steamed milk. Chai latte tastes sweet and creamy with a lasting warm spiciness. However, the aromatic spices used will vary from one coffee shop to another. Other than that, the drink usually has a frothy foam top. While most people enjoy it hot in a mug, many coffee shops also serve an iced chai latte.
Chai latte vs Masala Chai
This mildly spiced drink originated in India and took inspiration from the famous masala chai, a traditional Indian beverage. The spiced milk tea appeared as an alternative to suit the western palate better.
"Chai" is tea in Hindi, while "latte" is milk in Italian. Therefore, chai latte literally means tea with milk. Despite that, many people still need clarification on the two drinks. It is understandable, though, as there are only slight differences.
Both beverages have the same base ingredients, but the primary difference is the percentage of milk used and sweetness. Chai latte uses more milk which makes up more than half of the drink, for a thicker and creamier consistency. Another difference is the addition of spices, sweetener and frothy foam at the top. While a chai latte includes all of the above, regular masala chai is brewed with milk with optional sugar.
Therefore, chai latte has a similar spicy kick to Indian masala chai but has a rich, velvety texture and sweeter taste due to its high sugar and milk content. In fact, this sweet and spicy flavour is what most people want when they order this drink.
While it's delicious on its own, you can also use it as a tasty base for other beverages, like bubble milk tea. Some cafes also add additional flavourings to the spiced milk tea, such as chocolate and mint. There are also many variations, including seasonal flavours like Eggnog and Pumpkin Spice chai latte.
A popular variation of this beverage is the Dirty chai latte which includes 1-2 shots of Espresso. The expresso adds a slight bitterness to the drink and a caffeine punch. Besides, some places offer Vanilla chai latte by adding vanilla syrup.
Does chai latte have caffeine?
Caffeine is in chai latte as it contains black tea. A typical cup of chai latte can have around 70mg of caffeine, depending on the brew and cup size. Chai latte is a healthier, less caffeinated drink than a regular cup of coffee with 120mg of caffeine. Therefore, we recommend it for those limiting their caffeine intake but still want to enjoy a hot drink that wakes them up.
However, the caffeine content in this spiced tea can vary depending on several factors. Firstly, the amount of caffeine depends on the brewing time. The longer the steeping time for the tea, the more caffeinated it will be. It also depends on the variation of tea leaves you use. Typically, spiced milk tea uses Indian black tea, which has high caffeine content.
So, you can consider using another decaffeinated black tea or Darjeeling to reduce the caffeine. However, this will alter the taste of your spiced milk tea.
Apart from that, the proportion of tea leaves to spices used in the chai latte recipe can also determine the caffeine amount in the drink. Hence, reducing the steeping time or using lesser tea leaves can significantly reduce the caffeine content in your beverage.
Chai latte calories
A serving of Starbucks chai latte contains about 240 calories. However, our homemade chai latte has only 200 calories. We can also assure you that this DIY chai latte is healthier, with no added sugar.
Homemade chai latte ingredients
To make a homemade chai latte, you will only need black tea, chai spices, milk, and sweetener.
The best tea to use for making chai latte is black tea for its strong, malty flavour and rich aroma. We highly recommend using Assam, Darjeeling or Ceylon tea. However, other black tea blends, such as English Breakfast, Earl Gray and decaffeinated black tea, will work wonderfully too.
We also recommend using tea leaves for a more full-bodied tea. They are generally higher quality than tea bags and will have a more robust, pronounced flavour. Tea bags might be more convenient, but you still have to strain out the spices later on. So, using tea bags won't help you save a lot of time when it comes to making the DIY chai latte.
Despite that, you can make chai latte with tea bags if that is all you have. In addition, you can also use ground spices that you can mix well with the tea. With that, you wouldn't have to strain the tea before serving if you don't mind the sediment.
It is also essential to pick the right spices as they highly influence the taste and aroma of your tea. The common ones used in making chai latte are cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, black peppercorns, and cloves. While we have a detailed guide on making your chai spice mix, feel free to come up with your own.
As a general rule, add a little more ginger to make your tea spicier or more cinnamon for a sweeter drink. We recommend only adding small pinches at a time so you can slowly find the right mix to suit you.
While experimenting with our recipe, we couldn't find a way to make the black peppercorns work for us. It was too spicy for us and didn't taste right. So, we've decided to skip it.
If you want to add different spices than the ones we've recommended, try replacing or reducing the amount of the other chai spice ingredients. Too many spices can be overpowering. In India, the chai latte is lightly spiced using only ginger, cardamom or a little bit of both.
Instead of creating your own spice blend, you can also use chai latte powder, which is an instant chai latte. Since it takes more time to prepare from scratch, some cafes use it to brew the beverage on demand quickly.
You can use chai latte powder if you're still working out what spice blend to include in your drink. However, a powder pack is not ideal if you want to have control over the flavour of your spiced milk tea.
When it comes to sweetening your chai tea latte, it is best to use a sweetener that won't overpower the spices. Therefore, we recommend using brown sugar syrup or maple syrup to sweeten the beverage. This is because their caramel notes will accentuate the drink's spices rather than hide them.
Any other natural sweeteners like raw honey and agave syrup are also great alternatives to those. However, you may still use granulated sugar to sweeten your tea if you don't have any of those. We don't recommend using Stevia as it adds a slightly odd taste from our experience.
Chai Syrup Concentrate
Places like Starbucks will use chai syrup to make their drinks as this saves time. However, chai syrup won't give you a flavourful drink compared to fresh spices. You also won't be able to control the sweetness of your spiced milk tea.
If you want to use premade chai syrup, skip the spices and sweetener that we mentioned in the chai latte ingredients above.
Whole cow's milk is commonly used for this recipe for its thick and creamy texture. In India, traditional spiced milk tea is made with buffalo milk instead of cow's milk for religious reasons. However, full-fat cow's milk should achieve a similar creaminess to buffalo milk.
There are alternative kinds of milk which you can also use instead of cow's milk. Our favourite milk for this spiced drink is soy milk, but we'll explain a few alternatives you can use later on.
How to make chai tea latte from scratch
You can make chai tea latte at home with a few simple steps.
- Toast your spices. Add cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom in a saucepan over medium heat until fragrant. Then, add water and ginger to the saucepan and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
- Add loose-leaf tea or tea bags, cover and steep for 4-5 minutes. Add maple syrup and stir until dissolved. Strain the tea and pour it into a pitcher or teapot.
- Pour ¾ cup of warm tea and ½ cup of the warmed milk into a mug.
- Stir and top it off with the remaining milk froth. Sprinkle with cinnamon, and enjoy.
Different Milk with Chai Latte
You can enjoy your cup of iced chai latte with all kinds of milk! Apart from dairy milk, you can also make our chai latte recipe with plant-based milk. Here is the best plant-based or non-dairy milk you can use to make vegan or non-dairy chai latte.
Oat Chai Latte
Oat milk is naturally sweet due to its high carbohydrate content. However, it is still very neutral in taste so it won't tone down the flavour of the spices. It is also thicker and creamier than dairy milk, so it is a little more complicated to work with and takes longer to froth. Therefore, we suggest getting a barista oat milk made for frothing for a more straightforward process.
Almond milk is among the best options for making lattes, and it has a nutty flavour which goes well with the spices. We recommend going for unsweetened almond milk to use alongside your sweet syrup. It also has similar properties to standard dairy milk and froths up nicely when steamed. However, it needs to be heated higher than regular dairy milk. The best temperature to froth almond milk is 150°F and no higher than this to avoid it from breaking down.
Soy Chai Latte
Soy milk has a mild flavour adaptable to the chai spice flavours. So, rest assured it won't drastically affect the taste of the spiced tea. However, soy milk is thinner than most plant-based and dairy milk so it won't froth as well as those. Still, you can make a good foam with barista soy milk by heating it at about 120-130°F.
Coconut milk and chai spices make a delicious combination as the spices make the milk taste more sophisticated and more decadent. In addition, coconut milk is much thinner than dairy milk since it contains more water than dairy milk. Despite that, the coconut fat makes it thick and creamy enough to froth excellently. Manual frothing works best with coconut milk, so you can even froth it by shaking it in a mason jar.
Like almond milk, cashew milk will add an earthy, slightly sweet and nutty flavour to your spice tea. But cashew milk is denser than almond milk. It can create a slightly heavier texture for your chai latte. It can froth decently, too but be careful as it may produce large bubbles when steamed, making your drink soapy. Due to that, we recommend steaming it at around 120-130°F or lower.
Hemp milk is nut-free, making it a good option for those with dairy and nut allergies. However, it has a slightly grassy taste and is not as creamy as other plant-based milk. Despite that, it can make a decent froth when you heat it before adding it to your drink. Otherwise, hemp milk can curdle if you add it cold to the chai latte.
Rice has a pleasant and neutral taste that will allow the spices in the drink to shine. However, you can't forth rice milk well since it is very thin and has a low-fat content. There's no harm in using rice milk to make your chai latte, but it will water down your drink. Therefore, we suggest you go for it only if you prefer your spiced milk tea to be less creamy and frothy.
Flaxseed milk tastes like a combination of almond and oat milk but is less milky. It has a mild taste that pairs well with the chai spices. You'd want to get the one that contains Gellan Gum or a barista flax milk for an easier frothing process. Otherwise, the standard flaxseed milk might give you a less foamy top for your chai tea latte.
Frothy foam-topped chai latte
Milk plays an essential role in making chai latte. Not only does it contributes to the consistency of the beverage, but also the best part of it, aka the frothing. Therefore, it is better to use milk with more fat content for a better froth and creamier drink. But feel free to use thinner milk if you prefer a little less light and frothy tea.
And whether you're using plant-based or dairy milk, you can froth them in three ways. Firstly, you can whisk it vigorously over medium-high heat on the stovetop. We recommend using this method for 2% dairy milk and coconut milk.
After heating it in a saucepan on low heat, you can froth the milk with an immersion blender. This method works best with all non-dairy milk, but you can also use it for dairy milk. Lastly, you can heat it over medium-high heat and shake the milk in a jar. This technique works well with nut milk and whole dairy milk.
However, manually frothing milk manually can be a huge pain, and it takes ages to achieve the perfect consistency. Alternatively, you can create the froth using tools like a frothing wand or espresso machine to get the frothy top.
We recommend getting an electric milk frother to save yourself from all the hassle of making milk froths. Unless you prefer sneaking in an arm workout, this handy tool will save you a lot of time and energy.
How long does it take to steep chai latte?
We recommend you steep the tea leaves for no more than 4-5 minutes. You can get a stronger and more pronounced flavour if you want to steep it for longer. However, it can also turn bitter quickly after this point. For a milder flavour, you can steep the tea leaves for shorter. Feel free to experiment and find the best moment for you.
How to make chai latte with tea bags and chai concentrate
While we prefer making chai latte from scratch using tea leaves and our spice mix, we understand it can take a lot of work to get your hands on loose-leaf tea and fresh spices. So here's our easy, quick method to make chai latte with tea bags and a premade chai concentrate.
This method will give you a less pronounced flavour from the tea. Add more tea bags if you feel like the tea needs to be stronger. To avoid a bitter taste, do not steep for more than 4-5 minutes.
- Add 3 black tea bags, cover and steep for 4-5 minutes. Add your 1 tablespoon of chai concentrate and stir until dissolved.
- Forth your milk.
- Pour ¾ cup of warm tea and ½ cup of the warmed milk into a mug.
- Stir and top it off with the remaining milk froth. Sprinkle with cinnamon, and enjoy.
Homemade Chai Latte Recipe (Hot or Iced)
- 4 cups water
- 3 cups preferred milk
- 2 tbsps loose-leaf black tea (or 6 black tea bags)
- 6 tbsps maple syrup
- 1 inch fresh ginger (thinly sliced)
- 2 cinnamon sticks (crushed)
- 6 green cardamom pods (cracked)
- 3 whole cloves
- Add the cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom to a small saucepan over medium heat. Toast them by gently shaking the pan until fragrant. Then, brew the tea by adding water and ginger into the saucepan. Let it simmer for 4-5 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and add the loose-leaf tea or tea bags. Cover the saucepan and let it steep for 5 minutes. Next, add the maple syrup and stir until it dissolves in the tea.
- Strain the tea through a strainer and pour it into a pitcher or teapot. Discard the spices and tea leaves.
- Create a milk froth manually or use an electric milk frother. If done manually, whisk the milk vigorously over medium-high heat.
- Pour ¾ cup of warm tea and ½ cup of the warmed milk into a mug. Stir well. Then, top the beverage with a spoonful of milk foam. Sprinkle some cinnamon over it, serve, and enjoy.
- You can substitute both cardamom and cloves with allspice.
- You can substitute ginger with turmeric in the same amount.
- You can replace maple syrup with other sweeteners like honey or brown sugar.
- Make sure to add your sweetener to the warm tea base before straining the tea. This is so your sweetener will melt and become fully incorporated.
- Besides toasting, you can also simmer the spices in boiled water for a few minutes to bring out the flavours of the spices more.
- You can also manually froth milk by shaking it vigorously in a jar besides hand whisking it. Alternatively, you may use an electric milk frother or a frothing wand.
- To make a non-dairy chai latte, use non-dairy milk with more fat to create better foam and a thicker texture.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and is only a rough estimate.
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