Chai tea latte is a product you can see more and more often in each coffee house. A lot of new versions, interpretations of brewing houses, and even an essential part on different morning menus. It is a beverage and a treat at the same time.
And I guess I am not wrong in saying that a cookie paired with it makes the best snack you can get from a coffee shop.
What does a Chai tea latte taste like?
Chai tea latte’s main taste is intense, strong, and smoky from the black tea, but other spices are usually used to complement this taste.
Chai latte is a drink with a spicy, intense flavor and a strong taste that can be either mild or bitter. Because a lot of ingredients can be used, we can talk about chai latte as a drink type and not a drink by itself.
But a typical chai latte is made of tea leaves (usually black) boiled in water, with warm milk with a bubbly foam and a kind of sweetener.
Black tea is boiled for enough time to infuse its strong and earthy flavor together with a bitter taste from tannins present in it.
The sweetener makes it sweet. Honey brings a mild tone and maple syrup adds a nutty flavor.
Milk is a liquid in which tea is boiled. But its lactose, proteins, and fat content change the final taste and flavor. These become more mild and fine, a little sweet, and also the whole tea becomes more creamy.
You may be interested in reading our recent article about what Brie cheese tastes like.
Modern approaches include whipped cream and steamed milk (or frothed milk) for making a creamy drink.
Black pepper, cloves, and ginger bring some heat to the drink, while ginger and cardamom accentuate the spice. Spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and star anise bring a citric and sweet profile. They make the whole flavor more friendly and mild.
Where did it start from?
Chai latte has its roots in something called Masala Chai. This drink is traditional and original in the Indian Subcontinent just like curry.
Traditional Masala Chai tea is a drink on which a mix of spices called Karha is boiled. The main ingredients present there are ground ginger and green cardamom pods. But you can also find the followings:
- star anise
- fennel seeds
And many more. See? How can we define a drink that has so many ingredients and ways to be mixed?
Chai latte ingredients differ on the preferences each one has, but also on the geographical region. For example, in west India lemongrass is a very appreciated element of chai. In the far west they don’t usually use black tea, but a green one.
Most coffee shops today can make their chai latte mix. But usually, most of them use black tea, water, regular cow milk (or a vegan option like soy milk/macadamia nut milk), and spices like cinnamon, ginger, vanilla.
Types and variations
Drinking a classic chai latte is a delightful experience. But if you would prefer it in another form, fortunately, you have a lot of options to choose from.
In stores, you can find tea bags of chai tea concentrate. They contain a mix of tea leaves and spices and need some minutes to be soaked in hot water.
This is a simple and fast way to make a hot cup at home or for picnics. Sometimes you can also find canes and bottles with this mix. The ratio of ingredients differs from one company to another.
Traditionally, you would use buffalo milk. But nowadays, you can choose between buffalo, cow, and even vegan alternatives. Almond and oat milk are some perfect options. Soy milk is also another one.
In the west, white sugar is the most used sweetener. You can also use honey, raw sugar cane, and synthetic ones if you have diabetes.
Some would say that not using one at all is the real way to drink a chai of any kind. But in some cases, sugar enhances some flavors (vanilla, cinnamon).
Find out how cornstarch tastes and how it can help reduce the sugar you use while cooking.
In terms of tea leaves, the classic chai latte uses black ones. But you can also find options with green tea, a mix of green and black and not only.
And let’s say it’s summer, you are in Mexico and you enjoy the strong sun. You crave a Chai latte, but how can you get a hot chai latte right at that moment?
Well, great news: Most coffee houses have the option to get an iced chai tea latte! Instead of foam, you get cold milk and a lot of ice. Isn’t that cool (maybe a pun was intended)?
Dirty chai latte vs Regular chai latte
There is such a thing called dirty chai latte. But do you know the difference between this and the regular one? And no, it is not something your kids should be unaware of. Not that kind of thing!
All it takes extra is an espresso shot! Yes, a coffee shot in a chai. It is a total change of perspective for anyone that loves experimenting with coffee. But why would tea drinkers choose this option?
Well, the smoky flavor together with the coffee smell, represents a good addition. And the bitter coffee taste is very appreciated by some.
Also, caffeine lovers would rather choose this drink than the classic one or a classic coffee, because both ground coffee and black tea have caffeine.
And more: you can have an iced chai latte together with that strong shot of coffee for a maximum spike of energy! Or that hot day you try to bare.
Big coffee chains’ chai latte
Big coffee and snacks chains like Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and Peet’s Coffee and Tea have chai lattes on the menu.
No matter if it is regular, iced, or dirty, they are more or less the same. Tea, spices mix, water, foamed milk, and a sweetener, all are present.
Their ratio depends on each company’s recipes, but the spicy flavor and the mild heat are present in each one. Sweet and spicy flavors are more prominent compared to homemade and regular chai teas.
When it comes to sugar, you can usually choose the amount. Same for milk. For those who want a vegan product, you must ask for that.
The sweetener used in Starbucks, for example, is a honey product, which is not vegan. Also, milk can be substituted with almond and soy milks, cashew nut milk, and almond milk for a vegan chai latte.
Due to the multitude of elements present in a Chai latte numerous benefits exist. Among them, some important ones are:
- Helps digestion and gut microbiota
- Reduction in body weight
- Prevention of cancer
- Prevention of metabolic abnormality
- Prevention of diabetes
- Matcha tea (a type of green tea) reduces stress by a lot
- Raise energy with the help of caffeine
- Lower the cholesterol
But be aware. While a small amount of sweetener (in the form of sugar) can enhance the taste and flavor, often too much leads to diseases. Diabetes, high blood pressure, bad sleep, and weight gain are some of the problems too much sugar can bring.
Did you know
- Chai latte has less caffeine than regular coffee? On average, it contains a third of the caffeine content of a normal coffee.
- Masala chai has existed, as a legend says, from around 5 thousand years ago in the Indian Subcontinent? But in today’s form, it is known from around the 19th century.
- Tannin, an active compound of chai, acts as a regulator for caffeine? This prevents the caffeine ‘shock’ you have from a normal coffee and adds other health benefits to the drink
One last word
Chai latte is a tea-based beverage, but also a way to prepare tea. The brew of tea leaves, water, milk foam, and spices became a treat and a very appreciated beverage.
And for those who love an alternative to a classic cappuccino, a chai latte is a perfect choice! Not to say that you can have a chai latte vegan if you want to.
No matter your preferences when it comes to beverages: Chai latte is always an option to choose from, and it often comes with ways to personalize so it can fit you in the best way!