How many times a week, or better yet how many times a day do you find yourself visiting the local coffee shop for something a bit more exciting than your standard coffee? Most people are perfectly capable of making a coffee at home, but it’s the specialty hot drinks that can throw you a curveball and force you to the coffee shop to spend the extra cash.
The classic chai tea latte or the soy chai latte from Starbucks is easily one of the most popular drinks and for good reason. This one is fabulous year-round, has universal appeal and has a unique taste to it. But if you’re convinced you to need to visit your local Starbucks or other specialty coffee shop to experience the chai tea latte, it’s time to think again.
Here we’ll dig into all there is to know about chai tea latte. We’ll look at such questions as “what does chai tea latte taste like”, what ingredients are needed, the steps to make it and how you can finesse your results at home. So, it’s time to become an at-home barista and churn out your own specialty chai tea latte.
What Does a Chai Tea Latte Taste Like?
First things first, what exactly is a chai tea latte and what does it taste like? This drink is nothing new, but it seems to have rocketed to fame in the past decade or so. As specialty coffee shops and houses started popping up across the country, the menus got longer to attract customers. There needed to be a way to stand out from the typical donut shop coffee, and specialty coffees and teas were the answer.
If we were to describe what a chai tea latte tastes like, it is a balance of sweet and spicy, not like anything else. It's also very creamy in terms of texture - again, different from a typical tea.
What is a chai latte made of? Well, this is where it gets its unique spiciness from. There are black tea leaves that are blended with black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. With such an extensive list of aromatic spices, it's clear to see where the flavor profile comes from. Each person will taste a different top note, but the cardamom tends to be a standout flavor.
Does a Chai Tea Latte Have Caffeine In It?
If you're being mindful of your caffeine intake then you may wonder how much caffeine is in chai tea latte, Starbucks style. The popular Grande size chai tea latte (cold and hot versions) has a total of 95 mg of caffeine. In comparison, the same sized coffee at Starbucks has 330 mg of caffeine - which is a huge difference. The Blonde Roast has much less than the standard roast, but still double that of a chai tea latte. So, while the Starbucks chai caffeine count isn't zero milligrams, it's much lower than that of coffee. If you're worried about how much caffeine in chai latte at Starbucks, this is another reason to make your own as you can look for a caffeine-free version. It's a common customer question too - "is there caffeine in Starbucks chai tea latte" - so you aren't alone.
Is a Chai Tea Latte Sweet?
Another common question people can have about this style of beverage is, "is Starbucks chai tea latte sweetened" and the answer is, yes. This is one of the standout features in its flavor profile - it is sweet. Now you can get around that overly sweet flavor by instead ordering the Lightly Sweet Chai Tea Latte, but it still has sugar in it. What's the solution? Make it at home where you have full control of how much or how little sugar you add. This is ideal for those who are trying to limit their sugar intake.
What Time of Day is a Chai Tea Latte Ideal For?
So, is a chai tea latte considered a morning beverage, can you have it any time of day? A chai tea latte can be seen as versatile as a cup of coffee. What this means is that you can enjoy it any time of the day or night, whenever the mood strikes.
There’s also the fact it can be prepared hot or cold, which means you can just as easily sip it on a cold day as a hot day in the summer. It comes down to personal preference.
Can You Take It On-the-Go with You?
Sometimes when you see a creamy style hot or cold beverage you wonder how practical it is for taking on the go. A chai tea latte is known for that foamy/creamy top, but that shouldn’t stop you from making it in a to-go mug and taking it with you. You can save yourself a fair amount of money by making it at home in the morning and taking it with you to work.
What Ingredients are Needed?
Ready to try making chai tea latte at home? If so, these are the ingredients you’re going to need:
- Chai tea bags (there are caffeine-free versions if you prefer)
- Milk, if you want to replicate the Starbucks style you'll need 2% milk
- White granulated sugar
As you can see, these are basic ingredients and outside of the tea bags, you’ve probably already got the items at home. Chai tea can be found at any grocer and typically you’ll have your choice of brands. Some of the more popular chai tea brands include Twinings, Stash, Tazo, Celestial Teahouse and Yogi. You may want to sample a few to find the one that appeals to you most. Starbucks uses Teavana sachets classic chai, which you can also purchase.
How Do You Make a Chai Tea Latte? Step-by-Step Instructions
Making a chai tea latte is a two-step process. There is the tea itself and then the foam. Both are easy quick steps, however, so don’t be scared off.
The first step is to brew a strong half cup of chai tea. Place the teabag in your cup, pour hot water over it until it reaches the halfway point and then let it steep for a couple of minutes. Remove the teabag and add sugar.
While the tea is brewing you can foam the milk. This can be done on the stove by pouring the milk into a small pot over medium-low heat and whisking continuously until you create a foam. This foam is then poured over the hot tea.
You can make the process faster and easier by purchasing a small electric whisk meant for frothing milk, or a dedicated milk frother unit that heats and froths the milk for you. If you like making specialty drinks with foam, then the milk frother unit will prove to be a good investment.
How About a Cold Chai Tea Latte?
What if you like the flavor of a chai tea latte but it’s a stifling hot day and you’re craving a cold beverage? The key is to think ahead and brew some chai tea in advance that has had time to chill in the fridge. Typically it's best to brew it the day before so it has time to chill. It needs at least a couple of hours in the fridge.
A good rule of thumb is to use four tea bags per one quart of water. If that's too strong or mild, you can adjust to taste. Honey syrup is an easy way to sweeten a cold drink and can be mixed when you pour the tea into the glass. Rather than a warm froth, you can simply add cold milk to the top.
If you're not a fan of honey syrup, there are others you can try. These include agave nectar, maple syrup, simple syrup, date palm sugar or coconut sugar.
How to Dress Up Your Chai Tea Latte
Part of what makes specialty drinks so special is the added touches. There is no reason why you can’t do this at home. You can dress your chai tea latte up with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top, a stick of cinnamon placed in the cup, or adding flavor to the milk froth such as a flavored syrup. If you want to get fancy you can drizzle a sauce over the froth such as cinnamon dolce. Just think how spectacular this drink could look when serving guests.
Similar Drinks You May Want to Try
Now that you're a fan of chai tea lattes, what other ones should you try? There is a wide array of latte options, many of which you can make at home. Some others worth trying include:
- Mocha latte
- White chocolate latte
- Vanilla latte
- Cinnamon latte
- Caramel latte
- Pumpkin spice latte
- Hazelnut latte
It’s all about changing up the flavor profile, but sticking to the latte basics.
Thanks to these tips, it won’t be long until you’re a pro at making chai tea latte and you’ll be ready to step up your game and try other concoctions at home.