Dirty chai latte is a caffeinated drink that consists of traditional masala chai (spiced Indian tea) and a refreshing shot of expresso. When served with a splash of cold milk, it becomes the perfect morning pick me up!
With sugar, spice, and everything nice, it's no wonder this hidden gem is on every hip coffee shop's not-so-secret menu. This spiced espresso has taken the world by storm! Even celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Khloe Kardashian are frequently spotted to enjoy a good cup of dirty chai latte.
Below, we'll let you in on our special dirty chai recipe that will have the coffee connoisseur in you jumping in delight. Tested and trusted, it's an iced dirty chai latte recipe Starbucks doesn't want you to know about.
What is dirty chai?
It is a blissful beverage that puts a magical spin on classic masala chai and espresso latte. Spiced tea is the base of this unique drink; Cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg are all simmered in milk for a full cup of masala chai. Additionally, expresso brings everything else to the table- a roasted earthy flavour, a pint of energising caffeine and a smooth mouthfeel.
Dirty chai latte balances the taste of coffee and espresso by adding a third flavour into the mix- sweetness from honeyed syrup. Moreover, the velvety consistency of milk envelopes the entire drink with a rich feel and wholesome tastiness.
With the widespread popularity of this caffeinated elixir, it is also known by many names. Depending on where you're from, some people will know it as Java Chai, Red Eye Chai, Espresso Chai, and Filthy Chai Latte.
The foundation for a dirty chai latte - masala chai was invented back in 1835. When the British first began setting up tea gardens in Northern India, it failed to appeal to the tastes of natives. Therefore, Indians started to mix tea with milk and spices, which led to the birth of the infamous masala chai.
However, it wasn't until the 90's when dirty chai latte was first introduced to the world – and it was on accident too! A barista was making a regular cup of masala tea when they mistakenly poured a shot of espresso into the drink. Regardless, the customer decided to try it out, and surprisingly, it tasted amazing.
Flash forward to the future, Starbucks grabbed the opportunity to capitalise on the unique taste of dirty iced chai. Due to the loose taste of coffee in the spiced expresso, a dirty chai latte became a hit with both coffee-lovers and non-coffee-lovers alike.
The amalgamation of tea and coffee caused tea enthusiasts and coffeeholic to turn away initially. However, once positive reviews pumped out due to general curiosity about this revolutionary concoction, this espresso drink rose in popularity. Thrillist, a popular foodie website, has even ranked it one of the most popular food items.
Nowadays, people worldwide have created many variations of dirty chai latte and emulate the success story of this lovely refreshment. These include green tea chai, Ying-Yang, a coffee-tea mix, and faux dirty chai.
Filthy Chai Latte will bless your taste buds with the warm-spiced sensation of ground spices and the refreshing tang of classic coffee. Though similar to the Korean misugaru latte in that both beverages are airy and light. This drink has a more complex flavour profile. It differentiates itself by having a deep yet diverse taste of spices that sinks delicately into your tongue.
With a good dose of milk poured into dirty chai concentrate, the intense taste of coffee and tea in a dirty chai latte will be mellowed down. Sugary substances like syrup or honey work in tandem with the hearty creaminess of milk in this fine beverage.
Furthermore, the fragrant aroma of traditional Indian condiments also adds to the charm of this expresso drink.
Dirty chai calories amount up to about 240 kcal. This makes it one of the very few coffee shop drinks that have less than 300 calories. According to various studies, this hot beverage is very healthy, mainly since it contains caffeine, a general stimulant that does wonders to your body.
Dirty chai latte contains about 160 milligrams of caffeine content for a 12-ounce serving. It derives its caffeine from both black tea and one shot of espresso. For fervent coffee lovers, you might like to increase the power of coffee in your dirty iced chai. Just add an extra pump of espresso into the mix for a double whammy of caffeine.
Chai latte vs dirty chai
The critical difference between both refreshments is the use of coffee in the drinks. While the former drink contains not even a single drop of coffee, the dirty chai latte has a generous serving of espresso.
Aside from that, chai latte might appeal better to tea connoisseurs due to its dominant tea flavour. Likewise, dirty chai would be a better fit for coffee enthusiasts because of its dominant coffee flavour.
However, we highly recommend Red Eye Chai even if you dislike coffee because the beverage isn't all that bitter. In addition, it has a burst of varying flavours that might make the regular chai beverage seem bland or even dull.
How to Make
Dirty chai latte includes three main ingredients:
Although any black tea will taste great with this recipe, a traditional cup of masala chai would use Assam or Darjeeling tea. If you don't have them, get strong black tea that is robust enough to handle the explosive flavour of the spices.
No other type of coffee can compete with espresso when making the perfect serving of Filthy Chai Latte. This concept is similar to the making of the Spanish Café con Leche. As espresso has a thicker and creamier texture than coffee, it makes the perfect base for this spiced drink.
Chai spices traditionally used to make dirty chai latte are fresh ginger, cardamom pods, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns and star anise. You can find them at your local grocery store or buy a premixed package online.
Iced dirty chai
Espresso chai is a very versatile drink that you can prepare both hot and cold. To make a mean cup of beverage, prepare the base of the hot drink, as usual, using our easy dirty chai recipe below.
Then, you may pour the magical elixir of dirty chai latte over a cup of ice. For a bit of extra flavour ala Starbucks, add in a generous helping of honey or caramelised sugar. Once done, you can enjoy the cool refreshing treat as a way to beat the hot summer heat.
Vegan coffee-lovers worldwide will rejoice when they find out that this stunning Indian-American refreshment can be made vegan-friendly! The only animal-based product used in dirty chai latte is milk so switch that to your preferred non-dairy milk.
Oat milk, almond milk, and soy milk are excellent plant-based substitutes for regular milk in this recipe. You can prepare the vegan-friendly beverage using the same steps as our recipe below with the right ingredients.
How to store
The best way to store this spiced espresso is by keeping it in a refrigerator in a tightly sealed container. Although you can keep your leftover dirty chai latte in the fridge for up to 3 days, it's better to consume it as soon as possible. However, if you're using more milk than recommended, it might only be able to hold up for a day or two.
Dirty Chai Latte Recipe
- 3 tablespoon Chai latte powder mix
- ½ cup boiling water
- 1 shot espresso
- ⅓ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Firstly, use an espresso maker to make the espresso.
- Add the chai latte powder mix into the ½ cup of boiling water. Mix thoroughly.
- Once the masala chai has been prepared, mix in the honey to sweeten. Next, pour in the espresso.
- Lastly, add a good amount of milk into the drink based on your preference and enjoy your dirty chai latte!
- If you don’t have an espresso maker, you may alternatively use Aeropress to brew strong coffee.
- You can also prepare the masala chai buying steeping 2 black tea bags in a cup of boiling water. Then, simmer the spices (cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, etc) in the black tea you prepared for 5 minutes. For a more intense taste, leave the solution to steep for a while longer.
- For a cold cup of Red Eye Chai, drop a few cubes of ice into a tall glass. Then, pour in the tea, espresso and milk.
- If you would like to make the beverage vegan-friendly, use plant-based milk instead.
- If you want a stronger initial flavour, sprinkle some spices on top of the dirty chai latte.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and are only rough estimations.
Want to prepare one just like how a barista does it? Joel Miranda on Youtube shows you how to prepare a cup of dirty chai latte in a hip cafe. Instead of using boiling water, he dissolves the chai powder mix using the espresso shot. Then, he uses steamed milk to create a more foamy and silkier drink. This results in a spiced beverage that is more intense and creamier!
Think you've got what it takes to make a mean dirty chai Starbucks would be jealous of? Share your creation on Instagram and tag @honestfoodtalks. Then, have fun concocting your magical tea-coffee elixir!