Creating a chai tea latte from scratch with a recipe and ingredients you already have at home, can take less time than waiting in line for your Starbucks chai tea latte and even taste better. Even if you have to go out and buy a few spices, it should still cost you less per cup than the Starbucks chai tea lattes.
Read on to learn more about chai tea’s history and health benefits, and get a from-scratch recipe for a better version of the Starbucks chai latte.
What Is Chai?
Masala Chai is an Indian tea drink, most often made from black tea blended with a variety of warm winter-type spices, like ginger, cardamom, star anise, and pepper. In India, street vendors often have their own custom blend that customers will specifically travel to buy.
After brewing together for a long time, a form of sweeteners like granulated sugar, brown sugar, or maple syrup is mixed into the sticky reduced liquid. The resulting milky, sweet, and spicy chai tea typically is served hot in large quantities.
While the chai in India is usually loose-leaf, the tea used for chai tea in North America and Europe can come in various forms. This includes loose leaves, soluble powder, tea bags, or pre-made Tazo tea concentrate.
Are There Benefits to Drinking Chai?
Drinking chai has numerous potential health benefits. Whether a Starbucks chai tea latte or a homemade chai tea enjoyed hot or iced, it’s a delicious option over more sugary drinks. In addition to helping you to be healthier, it’s also warming on a cold day or helps to cool you down on a hot day.
Black tea and ginger are especially good for you and can help with heart and gut health.
- Black tea is full of antioxidants and is high in flavonoids which have been shown to promote heart health.
- Studies have shown that these antioxidants even help reduce cholesterol and heart disease risk.
- The ginger found in the spice mix helps with digestion and can help with nausea.
- The small amount of caffeine, roughly 20 mg per 100 ml, in the tea gives you energy without making you jittery.
- Tea can help reduce inflammation and constrict blood vessels that contribute to headaches and menstrual pain.
What Is a Chai Tea Latte?
A chai tea latte is a regular chai tea made with tea, chai spices and milk that you can serve hot or cold. When served as a hot latte, add steamed and frothed milk or cold milk and foam when served iced.
One commercially popular chai latte is the Starbucks Chai Tea Latte, available hot or iced.
Ingredients in Chai Tea Latte
Black tea, warm spices, and dairy milk or a variety of non-dairy milks like almond milk, soy milk, or oat milk come together to make a homemade chai tea.
The typical chai spices that accompany black tea can include:
However, you can leave some chai spices out of your chai latte if you don’t like them or add other spices to tailor the drink to you.
For a quick and easy chai latte that skips all the whole spices, you can use prepared chai tea bags that are available at most grocery stores.
What Is a Dirty Chai Latte?
A dirty chai is a regular chai latte with an additional shot of espresso added just before serving. If you add two espresso shots to your Starbucks chai tea latte, it can also be called a filthy chai.
Also read: What Is Dirty Coffee?
Homemade Chai Latte Recipe
This recipe to make a chai tea latte produces strong chai lattes for two people that you can dilute as necessary with additional milk or water. Unlike a Starbucks chai tea latte, you can make the chai latte as strong or weak as you like but brewing it for less or more time.
The recipe can be made for larger crowds by doubling or tripling the ingredients or making the chai concentrate (the tea, spices, and water) ahead of time and then reheating it before adding frothed milk.
The most important step in this Starbucks copycat recipe is to have the tea and spices brewed together to make a strong chai tea or chai concentrates.
- Easy recipe version: If whole spices are unavailable, you can substitute a store-bought chai tea bag in place of the black tea and spices and brew them in hot water before straining. Tazo Chai concentrate is also a great alternative to homemade chai concentrate.
Homemade Starbucks Chai Tea Latte Recipe
- Small saucepan or small pot
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Knife and cutting board
- Mortar and pestle
- Fine mesh strainer or coffee filter
- Immersion blender, electric milk frother, or the steam wand on an espresso machine
- 2 cups water
- 2 ½ tsp loose black tea or 2 tea bags
- 10-12 whole black peppercorns
- 5 cardamom pods
- 4-6 cloves
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 inch fresh ginger (peeled)
- 1 ½ cups whole milk or non-dairy milk like oat milk, soy milk, coconut milk or almond milk
- 2 tbsp weeteners such as brown sugar, maple syrup, granulated white sugar, or honey
- Ground cinnamon or nutmeg for garnish
- Iced cubes optional for making iced chai latte
- Put 2 cups of water in a saucepan on medium heat.
- Roughly crush the whole peppercorns (or black pepper), cardamom, cloves, and other hard spices in the mortar and pestle. Only crush until lightly broken, not fully ground. Set it aside.
- Crush the cinnamon stick and piece of ginger and add them to the crushed spices.
- Add all the spices to the saucepan once the water is boiling, and boil for 8-10 minutes.
- Add the preferred sweetener to the water.
- Steep loose tea or tea bags in the spice water for 3-4 minutes. Leave the tea in longer for a stronger tea and discard the tea bag before straining.
- Strain the spiced tea through a fine mesh strainer or coffee filter to remove spices and tea. Put into two mugs or just one mug and set the remaining aside in an airtight container for later.
- Heat milk in a separate pan and turn off the heat when it simmers. Do not let it boil.
- Froth the milk mixture with an immersion blender or electric milk frother.
- Pour the heated milk and foam onto the spiced tea in the mugs and garnish with a bit of cinnamon or ground nutmeg. You can also add heavy whipping cream on top. Feel free to add vanilla syrup or any flavoring you like.
- Enjoy the hot chai tea latte! You can reheat the remaining cup of spiced tea later.
- Optional: To make the Starbucks iced chai latte, fill the cup with iced cubes, then pour chai concentrate and milk over the ice. Or you can pull an espresso shot and pour it into the cup to make a dirty iced chai latte!
- You can heat the milk in the microwave instead of the stovetop before frothing. Heat it for 30 seconds in a microwave-safe dish, stir, and then another 15-20 seconds until hot.
- Whole spices should be gently crushed to help to release more flavor into the liquid. You can use pre-ground spices to make a chai latte, but the fresher the ground, the better.
- Full-fat milk or thicker non-dairy milks will froth easier than low or dairy-free milk.
- You can make a stronger chai tea concentrate if you want to make iced chai tea latte since the iced cubes will water down the tea.
- If you want to make a dirty chai tea latte, you can also use strong brewed coffee instead of espresso if you don’t have an espresso machine at home.
Here are a couple of the most frequently asked questions about chai tea.
Chai tea is usually made with tea leaves and spices brewed in hot water and only slightly sweetened with maple syrup or honey. A chai tea latte is sweeter and typically brewed with a chai concentrate or instant powder and water, then topped with heated milk and foam. Latte is milk in coffee, Chai tea latte is milk in chai tea.
If the chai tea is brewed with black tea that hasn’t been decaffeinated, then the hot or iced latte will have a small amount of caffeine. However, it is less caffeine than a regular cup of coffee. For your reference, a Grande (16 fl. oz) Starbucks chai tea latte contains 95 mg of caffeine.
Chai tea has numerous health benefits, and you can enjoy them thanks to a lower caffeine and sugar content on a regular, if not daily, basis.
Making your own custom hot or iced chai lattes at home with an excellent from-scratch recipe is beneficial, too. You can save money, time and reduce the sweetness in the recipe to how much sugar you want so that you can enjoy them more often than the Starbucks version.