Chai Tea vs. Chai Latte: An In-Depth Comparison

Greetings, tea and coffee lovers! Are you trying to decide between two popular chai drinks - chai tea and chai latte? In this in-depth comparison, we'll be analyzing the tea, milk, and spices used, the brewing methods, and the unique flavor profiles of each drink. Whether you're a dedicated tea fan or a coffee aficionado, get ready to expand your knowledge and discover which drink is the ultimate winner for your taste buds. Join us as we delve into the world of chai tea and chai latte and uncover what sets them apart.

Chai Tea and Chai Latte: Similarities and Differences

Chai Tea Basics

Chai tea, originating from the Indian subcontinent, is a popular and flavorful tea blend which often incorporates black tea leaves. With hundreds of variations based on region, subculture, or even family recipes, chai tea is known for its combination of aromatic spices, such as cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and ginger.

Typically, chai tea is prepared by simmering the tea leaves and spices with water, and then adding milk for a creamy texture. It's important to note that the term "chai" actually means tea, so saying "chai tea" essentially means "tea tea." However, this term is commonly used in Western countries to specifically refer to the Indian spiced tea mixture.

Chai Latte Basics

Chai lattes, on the other hand, fuse the flavors of chai tea with steamed milk, creating a smoother and sweeter beverage. They often have a more pronounced sweetness due to the addition of sweeteners such as sugar, honey, or flavored syrups. Visually, chai lattes are paler than chai tea and have a creamier texture as a result of the higher amount of steamed milk. They are typically topped with a layer of thick and dry foam and can be served either hot or cold (ice blended).

The main similarities between chai tea and chai latte are the utilization of the same aromatic and flavorful spices, and the inclusion of milk in both beverages. As a result, these drinks share a similar taste profile and aroma. However, there are some differences between the two:

  • Chai tea typically has a more pronounced tea flavor due to the lighter use of milk compared to chai lattes.
  • Chai latte is generally sweeter and creamier due to the higher amount of steamed milk and the use of sweeteners.
  • Chai tea can be perceived as more traditional, while chai latte is a Westernized version of the original spiced tea.
  • Chai latte may also be served cold, whereas chai tea is primarily enjoyed hot.

In summary, chai tea and chai lattes share the same foundation of spices and milk, but differ in texture, sweetness, and presentation. Both options offer an enjoyable, flavor-packed experience for those seeking a warm, aromatic beverage inspired by Indian tradition.

Ingredients and Flavor Profiles

Key Spices and Herbs

Chai tea and chai latte both have their roots in the traditional Indian beverage masala chai. They share a base of black tea, often Assam, and an array of spices that give chai its distinct, warming flavor. Common spices used in both beverages include cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and black peppercorns. Some blends may also contain nutmeg, star anise, and fennel. While the specific combination and ratio of spices can vary, these key ingredients generally create a complex and aromatic flavor profile.


The sweetness in both chai tea and chai latte can be adjusted to personal preference. Traditional masala chai is sweetened with sugar, but alternative sweeteners such as honey or even artificial sweeteners can also be used to achieve the desired level of sweetness. Chai lattes tend to have a milder taste of spice and tea due to the increased amount of milk, resulting in a smoother and sweeter drink.

Milk and Milk Alternatives

Milk plays a significant role in differentiating chai tea from chai latte. Chai tea is made using whole milk or hot milk, while the chai latte introduces steamed and frothed milk to create a creamier and frothier texture. The introduction of tiny air bubbles in the steaming process lends a smooth texture to the chai latte.

Milk alternatives, such as almond milk or other plant-based options, can be used in both chai tea and chai lattes for those who are lactose intolerant, vegan, or simply prefer a different flavor.

In summary, the ingredients and flavor profiles of chai tea and chai latte are similar but differ in texture and milk content. Chai tea tends to be stronger and more robust in flavor due to its focus on the blend of tea leaves and spices. In contrast, chai latte offers a smoother and mellow experience, with a creamier texture derived from steamed milk. Both are versatile drinks that can be easily customized to suit individual tastes and preferences.

Chai Tea vs. Chai Latte: Recipes

Traditional Chai

Traditional Chai, also known as Masala Chai or Masala Tea, originates from India and combines black tea with a mixture of aromatic spices. The most essential spices in a traditional chai recipe include cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, and cloves, though variations may include additional spices such as star anise and allspice. To prepare the tea, these spices are simmered with water, loose-leaf tea, and sugar. Traditionally, buffalo milk is used in India, but cow's milk or even nut milk can be used as a substitute.

Chai Tea Latte

A Chai Tea Latte, on the other hand, is a Western adaptation of traditional masala chai, where the chai tea is mixed with steamed milk, giving it a creamier and frothier texture. The flavor of the spices and tea is milder and smoother in a chai tea latte due to the higher amount of milk. Pre-made concentrates or tea bags can often be used instead of loose-leaf tea and spices, resulting in a quicker and more convenient preparation method. The appearance of chai tea latte is lighter in color and silkier in texture compared to traditional chai.

Chai Latte

The term "Chai Latte" commonly refers to the same drink as a Chai Tea Latte, though it may sometimes be used to describe variations that do not include tea, such as a Chocolate Chai Latte. These variations still incorporate the aromatic spices typically found in chai, but may substitute other flavorings for the black tea component. Chai lattes can be served hot or cold and may be the flavor base for creative drinks like bubble tea or even "Dirty Chai Latte," which includes a shot of espresso.

Variations and Adaptations

There are numerous variations and adaptations of traditional chai and chai lattes, and the recipes can be adjusted to suit personal preferences or dietary requirements. Some common adjustments include:

  • Using nut milk, soy milk, or lactose-free milk for a dairy-free option
  • Adjusting the spice blend or quantities to achieve a milder or more spicy flavor profile
  • Adding additional flavorings like chocolate or pumpkin spice
  • Sweetening the tea with alternatives like brown sugar, maple syrup, or honey

In conclusion, the main differences between chai tea and chai latte lie in the preparation techniques, incorporation of milk, and customizable variations that cater to individual tastes and preferences.

Regardless of whether you're enjoying a traditional chai or a modern chai latte, the drink's overall experience can be enhanced by the equipment used to make it. For those looking to elevate their chai latte game, especially if introducing an espresso component like in a "Dirty Chai Latte," a high-quality espresso machine can make all the difference. At Majesty Coffee, you'll find an impressive Commercial espresso machine collection that caters to various needs, whether you're setting up a café or simply want professional results at home. These machines offer precision and consistency, ensuring every drink, from chai to espresso, is crafted to perfection.

Health Benefits and Nutritional Content

Chai tea and chai latte are popular spiced beverages with unique flavor profiles and possible health benefits. While they share similarities in ingredients and origin, there are distinctions in terms of their nutritional content and health implications.

Chai tea, traditionally made with tea, spices, sugar, and milk, offers numerous health benefits, primarily derived from its spices. Cinnamon is one of the key ingredients, known for its association with lowering blood sugar levels. In fact, a 2011 study in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that whole cinnamon and cinnamon extract significantly lowered fasting blood glucose in individuals with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.

Other chai tea ingredients, such as ginger, black pepper, and cloves, contribute to its health-promoting properties. These spices are known to help reduce nausea, prevent bacterial infections, and support proper digestion. Moreover, chai tea can potentially aid in weight loss.

Generally, a 360ml cup of chai tea contains approximately 60 calories, making it a healthier option compared to a chai latte. It is important to note that the calorie count in chai tea might vary depending on the amount of sugar and milk used.

Chai lattes, on the other hand, typically have a higher calorie count. This is mainly due to the additional dairy and sweeteners used in their preparation, making them richer and creamier than chai tea. While the exact number of calories in a chai latte can vary depending on factors such as the type of milk and amount of syrup used, it is crucial to consider the nutritional differences between these two beverages when choosing the most suitable option for your health.

As for caffeine content, both chai tea and chai latte generally contain moderate amounts of caffeine, since they are made with black tea. However, the amount of caffeine may vary depending on the type of black tea base used and the steeping time. In general, a cup of chai tea or chai latte might have between 40 to 70 milligrams of caffeine per serving.

In summary, while both chai tea and chai latte share similarities in terms of ingredients and origin, their nutritional content and health benefits differ. Chai tea is a lower-calorie option, with potential health benefits linked with the various spices used in the preparation. Caffeine content is generally moderate in both beverages, and careful consideration should be given to the nutritional differences when choosing between these two popular beverages.

Chai Tea Latte and Chai Latte: In Coffee Shops and Cafes

Starbucks Chai Tea Latte

Starbucks offers a Chai Tea Latte, which is a popular choice among customers. It consists of chai tea concentrate made from a blend of spices and tea, mixed with steamed milk. This produces a creamy, frothy texture similar to an espresso-based latte. The caffeine level in a Starbucks Chai Tea Latte depends on the size of the beverage, but generally lies between 40 to 120 milligrams per serving.

Chai Latte Variations in Coffee Shops

Chai Lattes are not limited to Starbucks, as various coffee shops and cafes serve their own versions of this popular drink. Some use loose leaf tea and whole spices, while others opt for a ground cinnamon-based powder to create their chai concentrates. These different approaches result in variations of flavor intensity and depth.

In addition to the classic Chai Latte, some coffee shops also offer seasonal flavors such as Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte and Eggnog Chai Latte, providing unique twists on the traditional recipe.

Making Chai at Home

Those who prefer a homemade chai experience can easily recreate this beverage in their own kitchen. To make a Chai Tea Latte, one can use the following ingredients:

  • Black tea (loose leaves or bagged)
  • A blend of spices (such as cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger)
  • Sweetener (sugar, honey, or other preferred sweetener)
  • Milk (or a milk alternative)

To prepare:

  1. Brew the black tea with the spices and sweetener in hot water.
  2. Warm and steam the milk separately, using a milk frother or steaming wand, creating frothy foam.
  3. Combine the brewed chai tea and steamed milk in a mug, adjusting the ratio to taste.
  4. Optionally, garnish with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.

Note that a homemade Chai Tea Latte does not include any coffee or espresso, making it an excellent option for those who seek a warm, comforting beverage without the coffee flavor or high caffeine content. By preparing chai at home, one has the freedom to adjust flavors, sweetness, and milkiness to their preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Caffeine Content in Chai Tea vs. Chai Latte?

The caffeine content in chai tea and chai latte depends on the type of tea used in the blend. Black tea, such as Darjeeling, is the most common tea base for chai, containing approximately 40 to 60 milligrams of caffeine per 8 ounce serving. A chai latte, made by combining chai tea with steamed milk, typically has a slightly lower caffeine content due to the added milk. However, the overall difference in caffeine content between the two beverages is minimal.

Can Chai Tea or Chai Latte Help with Cold and Flu?

Chai tea and chai lattes can be soothing and comforting during cold and flu season thanks to the spices typically found in chai blends. Ingredients like ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom have been known to help with digestion, inflammation, and boosting the immune system. While chai tea and chai lattes may not cure a cold or flu, they can offer some relief from symptoms and provide a warming effect.

What Is the Cost of Chai Tea vs. Chai Latte?

The cost of chai tea and chai latte varies depending on where they are purchased and the quality of the ingredients used. Generally, chai tea will be more affordable, as it only consists of tea leaves and spices. Chai lattes, on the other hand, include not only the tea and spices but also steamed milk, which can increase the price.

When comparing the cost of homemade chai tea and chai latte, the latter may be slightly more expensive due to the need for milk and additional equipment, such as a milk frother. However, both options can be more cost-effective than purchasing them at a coffee shop or a café.

What Are Some Popular Chai Tea and Chai Latte Variations?

Chai tea and chai latte have many variations based on regional preferences and individual tastes. Some popular chai tea variations include:

  • Masala Chai: A traditional Indian chai tea that includes black tea, spices, and often milk and sugar.
  • Adrak Chai: A ginger-based chai tea that is simmered with milk and sugar.

Chai latte variations can be created by adjusting the ratio of milk to tea or adding additional flavors, such as:

  • Iced Chai Latte: A refreshing variation that is served cold with ice, blending the chai tea with cold or frothed milk.
  • Vanilla Chai Latte: A chai latte with added vanilla syrup or extract for extra sweetness and flavor.

To further customize chai tea and chai latte, different types of milk, sweeteners, and additional spices can be used to cater to personal preferences.

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Tony Barlow

Tony Barlow

Majesty Coffee Technical Sales Expert - Meet the Team

Tony Barlow, with over a decade of experience in the coffee industry, is the go-to technical sales expert at Majesty Coffee. He's passionate about helping businesses find the right espresso equipment for their needs.

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