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Two cups of chai tea latte topped with cinnamon

Chai Tea Lattes: Why It’s Better Than Coffee and How To Make It At Home

Posted on June 20 2023, By: Chai Up

Two cups of chai tea latte topped with cinnamon

Chai tea drinkers have undoubtedly increased throughout the years making it one of the most popular drinks in the world today. Chai tea lattes can now be found in various coffee houses and specialty cafes around the world. Amidst the growing popularity and commonality of masala chai, there is a huge misconception about it and chai vs tea has been a common point of contention. Chai lovers indulge in chai lattes without understanding where chai originates and how easy it is to make homemade chai

Chai lattes are derived from the Indian classic beverage, masala chai. Masala chai is a spiced tea that is made by brewing black tea which is combined with spices, milk, and sweeteners. A common misconception about the growingly popular drink is when people outside of India hear the word “chai”. Chai in the western world is attributed to a specific flavor profile of tea and spices, particularly cinnamon and cardamom. The term “chai tea” is actually just a repetition. “Chai” is Hindi for tea which means saying “chai tea” literally means “tea tea”. 

The primary spices part of chai tea ingredients include cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and black peppercorns among others.  While the process of making chai lattes is relatively easy, rounding up all the spices could be the most challenging part of the method. Today, masala chai spice mixes are readily available that make learning how to make chai tea a lot easier. 


A warm cup of chai with cardamom, cinnamon, and garnished with star anise

What Exactly Are Chai Lattes?

Chai lattes were introduced to the global market because of the increasing popularity of masala chai outside of India. The more people discovered the invigorating flavors and aromatic qualities of masala chai, the demand for variations began to emerge. The flavors of chai masala has now been translated to not just latte beverages but also cookies, pastries, and even ice cream!

Chai lattes combine rich and aromatic flavors from traditional Indian tea with steamed or frothed milk.The typical way of making chai lattes is by brewing a base of strong black tea, usually Assam or Darjeeling. It is brewed together with a mixture of spices like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and black peppercorns among other spices. It’s the masala chai spice blend that sets masala chai apart from any other drink. It’s distinct and has an invigorating flavor profile that increases the longer the tea and spices are brewed together. 

What turns the normal masala chai into a chai latte is the addition of steamed milk. It creates a smooth and velvety texture once added to the tea and spice mix. To enhance the overall taste, sweeteners are also added to create a perfect chai latte. You can use traditional sweeteners like honey or jaggery, but you can also use sugar and maple syrup. More recently, coffee houses have popularized flavored syrups which you can also use to sweeten your chai. The combination of sweetness is perfect to balance out the spiciness of the tea and creates one of the most harmonious flavor combinations known today.

Chai lattes can either be enjoyed hot or cold depending on your preference. Warm chai lattes are perfect for chillier days because of the warmth and comforting feel you can get from it. Iced chai lattes are equally as comforting as well as refreshing for warmer days. Regardless of the weather, you can still enjoy a nice warm chai latte even on cooler days if you don’t want it to be diluted with ice after a while.

A cold chai latte with frothed milk and a cinnamon stick


How Masala Chai Lattes Came To Be

While the British did begin the cultivation of tea in India during the 1900’s, the spicy masala chai drink has long been enjoyed by locals. In recent years, the drink has taken a life of its own outside India and has garnered worldwide popularity. According to The Guardian, this first started when returning travelers from the “hippy trail” brought chai with them during the 1960s. This was the earliest trace of what we now know as chai lattes in the west. In the 1990s, Starbucks, a coffeehouse company that has several franchises all over the world created their own spin on masala chai. They dubbed the drink “chai latte”, initially concerned that putting the word “latte” would confuse coffee drinkers because there isn’t exactly coffee in the drink. A former Starbucks marketing and brand manager calls the brand an “innovator” as it has the ability to take niche products and turn them mainstream. 

Many popular coffee chains would follow suit like Costa and Coffee Bean. Soon, chai lattes would not only be found in popular coffee shops, but even in smaller, artisanal coffee shops. Interestingly enough, while we know the British love their tea and even had their contributions to the modern masala chai, chai lattes made their way to the UK a lot later compared to the US. 

Today, there is a higher demand for chai lattes and tea in general than ever before. Fresh Cup predicts that by 2025, people will be spending more and spending especially on tea. World Tea News also reported that more Millennials and Gen Z are opting for tea-based drinks over coffee. This trend can be attributed to factors like environmental concerns, being more health conscious, and a growing desire to indulge in unique and artisanal beverage experiences. Coffee has also been largely linked to increased anxiety which furthers the demand for coffee alternatives with less caffeine. 

A hot cup of black coffee


Why You Should Try Chai Lattes Over Coffee

We know that the younger generation is making the switch from coffee to tea, but why is that? 

Coffee is widely popular for its stimulant properties and the effect of caffeine. To anyone who drinks it can get improved brain function, increased energy levels, and even boost their mood. Everything can be enjoyable in moderation, but high-consumption of coffee can also be dangerous. Coffee’s popularity can also be attributed to caffeine being addictive. Caffeine withdrawals can cause people to have headaches and be irritable which makes it harder to curb the call for coffee. Even the Mayo Clinic acknowledges the potential risks of coffee due to its high caffeine content which include increased blood pressure, a mild increase in cholesterol, and factors in the fact that it's not safe to consume for pregnant women. There are also plenty of side effects to drinking coffee which has people steering away from it like nausea, heartburn, insomnia, and increased anxiety. 

So if you’re needing a bit of caffeine, are there better alternatives to coffee? You bet!

For your caffeine kick, second to coffee being the most popular drink is black tea, one of chai latte’’s main ingredients. Both tea and coffee contain caffeine with just different amounts per serving. The amount of caffeine safe for human consumption a day is 400 mg. An 8-ounce cup of coffee has an average caffeine amount of 85 mg compared to black tea’s 47 mg for the same size. If you’re trying to lower your caffeine intake or even trying to wean off coffee, black tea would be your best alternative. 

Black tea is best known for containing an antioxidant called L-theanine. It has anti-stress effects that work by increasing alpha waves in the brain. This is why tea is known to be calming and relaxing. Another great effect of tea according to the New Scientist is its ability to lower the stress hormone cortisol. 

Reasons Why You Should Join The Chai Latte Hype

Trying something new can be daunting sometimes. It’s hard to change our comforting orders because trying out new things isn't always the best move. Making the move from being an avid coffee drinker to trying chai lattes might not be easy because they have very different flavor profiles. But we’re here to tell you all the reasons why you should at least give chai lattes a try. For one, it doesn't just taste good, it’s even beneficial for your health.

1. It can sustain your energy levels

The black tea in chai lattes can not only increase your energy like only caffeine does, it helps you stay energized. You can instantly feel energized once you drink coffee in the morning, but throughout the day you may feel lethargic when its effects wear down. This can lead to an eventual overconsumption of coffee which is unhealthy. Drinking chai lattes instead can bring up your energy levels and also sustain it. 

2. It improves your digestion

The mixture of spices present in chai lattes are proven to be beneficial to the digestive system. Tea on its own is great for digestion, the added spices and herbs just puts it a step further. The spices in particular that aids in digestion are ginger, which stimulates blood circulation and delivers oxygen to organs. Others are black pepper, cardamom, and cinnamon which helps with iron deficiency, liver disease, and irritable bowel syndrome. Black tea is also great for your metabolism and can decrease bloating. 

3. It reduces nausea

The ginger in chai lattes is not just beneficial for your digestive system, it also relieves nausea and other nausea-related illnesses. The compounds gingerol and shogaol are what cures nausea-related illnesses that can even cause stomach pains. Gingerol and shogaol benefits also range from being anticancer, anti-oxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergic.

4. It decreases blood sugar levels

The cinnamon in chai lattes can lower your insulin resistance and help improve and control blood sugar levels. One study found that 18% of blood glucose levels were decreased just by drinking 2-3 cups of black tea a day compared to those who did not consume tea. 

5. It can alleviate aches and pains

Different spices and herbs that make chai lattes make it an effective pain relief drink for common aches. Amongst the many health benefits of ginger, it also reduces inflammation and can treat headaches and migraines. Cloves on the other hand can help minor toothaches. 

6. It helps keep your heart healthy

The black tea and cinnamon in chai helps lower cholesterol and decreases blood pressure which helps keep a healthy cardiovascular system. Cinnamon also has compounds that can help fight diabetes, can regulate blood sugar levels, and can prevent cardiovascular disease. 

7. It helps manage your weight

The milk in chai is a great source of protein. Protein high diets have been shown to aid in weight loss. Drinking chai lattes can suppress your appetite and prevent overeating during the day. Black tea also helps in weight management because it promotes the breakdown of fat and reduces calorie absorption. The black pepper present in chai lattes can also prevent the accumulation of body fat. 

8. It can minimize cancer risk

Cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger that are ingredients in chai lattes have phytochemicals and antioxidants have been linked to have cancer-preventing properties. Cloves, one of chai latte’s main ingredients, have high antioxidant content and also have antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-cancer properties which can reduce the growth of tumors. 

9. It boosts your metabolism

The herbs and spices that make up chai lattes can stimulate digestive and pancreatic enzymes which breaks down fat and aids in oxygen uptake. Ginger is also great for boosting metabolism and it improves your immune system. 

10. It has less caffeine

Drinking tea is a healthier alternative for people who like to consume coffee. Too much caffeine is never good and coffee withdrawals are real. Instead of going cold turkey and stopping coffee conception, you can drink tea instead while still reaping the benefits of caffeine. 

A mix of some of the masala chai spices


An Easy and Delicious Chai Tea Latte Recipe

Depending on which region in India you reference a recipe from, learning how to brew masala chai will look different. There are two things for certain though when looking for a chai tea recipe, a combination of spices and tea. You can opt to add or remove spices that are present in masala chai if you don’t like them. But if you truly want to experience all of the chai latte’s invigorating flavors, you might not want to skimp on any of the herbs and spices in the mixture. 

To learn how to make a chai tea latte at home, here are all the ingredients you should round up for starters. 

Ingredients To Make The Best Chai Latte

These ingredients follow a recipe specifically for a masala chai latte from Food and Wine. This recipe can produce a richer flavor profile compared to chai lattes you can buy in coffee shops. It’ll be a lot cheaper in the long run to get all the ingredients and make them at home and also a lot healthier because you can make sure fresh ingredients are used while regulating the amount of sugar added. 

1. 8 cardamom pods

2. 5 whole cloves

3. 2 pieces of 3-inch cinnamon sticks

4. 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns

5. ½ teaspoon of fennel seeds

6. 3 cups of water

7. 1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger (peeled and thinly sliced)

8. 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar

9. 4 black tea bags

10. 1 whole nutmeg (grated)

11. 1 ¼ cups whole milk

Note: Instead of rounding up the spices, you can also use Chai Up’s Masala Chai Powder Mix instead! Use two tablespoons of the Powder Mix as a substitute for the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, black peppercorns, fennel seeds, and ginger. 

Alternatively, you can increase the amount of sugar or use other sweeteners like honey, jaggery, or even brown sugar. You can also use plant based milk options to make the recipe vegan like soy, almond, oat, or even pistachio milk. The great thing about following chai tea latte recipes at home is that you can tailor it however you want by following your specific dietary preferences. 


Step 1:

In a small bowl or using the bottom of a mug, crack open your cardamom pods. Heat up a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add in your cracked cardamom pods, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, and peppercorns and stir them all in together until it becomes fragrant. This procedure is called toasting your spices. By doing this, you draw out the flavors of the spices and allow for a fuller flavor potential. Toast your spices for 2-3 minutes. 

Step 2:

Slowly add in the water to the saucepan along with the ginger. Bring all the ingredients to a simmer on medium-high heat and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the saucepan and let the brew simmer and then remove from the heat. Now add the sugar until it’s dissolved. Add the tea bags and stir lightly. Slowly add in the nutmeg and let the brew steep for about 10 minutes to really bring out the flavor of tea. 

Step 3:

Add your preferred milk in the saucepan and stir. Pour the whole mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove the tea bags and whole spices. You can serve over ice or serve warm. 

You can also make the chai mixture first and then add the milk last if you prefer to use a milk frother first. If you prefer the frothed version over the steamed or heated milk, you can pour your masala chai mixture in a cup first and top it off with your frothed milk. 

Besides masala chai, there are other types of chai you might want to try and recreate by reading our blog on How To Make Authentic Chai The Easy Way!

A traditional way of making masala chai


How To Make Chai Lattes With Chai Up

We’ve shown you how to make chai tea with milk but there is also an easier way to make it using Chai Up’s Masala Chai Powder Mix. By using the powder mix, you can be assured to create the best chai tea and chai lattes right from the comfort of your own home. To use the chai tea recipe that calls for Chai Up’s Masala Chai Powder Mix, all you need is one pack that you can order here

There are other reasons to make your chai latte using Chai Up’s powder mix instead of rounding up all the ingredients on your own. For one, Chai Up uses more herbs and spices in their powder mix that are hard to find. Chai Up uses 9 premium ingredients to make its masala chai spice mix which includes: cloves, green cardamom seeds, basil, ajwain, fennel seeds, ginger powder, cinnamon, oregano, and licorice plant which has 4 times more spices than other masala chai recipes like the one above. 

Green cardamom seeds, ajwain, and licorice plants are hard to come by in a regular store and might not be readily available. You might also not have a lot of use for the other spices so it doesn’t make sense to buy them in bulk just for making chai lattes. That’s why if you want to start making chai lattes at home, you’d save more by buying Chai Up’s Masala Chai Powder Mix. 

To make a chai latte using Chai Up’s powder mix, just follow the brewing ingredients and add in hot water, sweeteners, and using your milk of choice. You can also enjoy this method iced or hot! You can save a lot of money and spice by buying a pack of Chai Up’s Masala Powder Mix, and you can almost instantly make a chai latte or a classic masala chai drink from home!

Authentic masala chai in a cup


All About Chai Up

Chai Up is the newest artisanal tea company available in North America (as soon worldwide!) that promotes sustainability and health through its products. The Masala Chai Powder Mix is made with 9 premium ingredients that are sourced ethically. The Powder Mix is an authentic Indian family recipe that the founders and their family have enjoyed for generations. Today, the creators of Chai Up are sharing a family recipe with the rest of the world so you too can enjoy the warmth and comfort their family has shared for many years.

To learn more about our product, send in your inquiries or questions by contacting us here and read through our Frequently Asked Questions page. Make the switch today from coffee and start consuming less caffeine without compromising the taste. With Chai Up’s Masala Chai Powder Mix, you can get more energized, healthier, and be introduced to a more complex flavor profile that you might find even more enjoyable than your regular cup of joe!


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