Chai tea is a popular tea to drink as hot tea or iced tea. How does chai taste? What flavor profiles will you taste in chai tea? What types of masala chai tea are there? How is it made? Do chai tea lattes have caffeine in them?
Okay, now if you're here, you may not have had a chai before. Let me help familiarize you with this delicious drink!
I especially enjoy ordering iced chai tea lattes when I'm running errands or eating out at one of our favorite restaurants here in Houston. The best vegan chai tea latte I've had in Houston is at Central Market's cafe. It's refreshing to sip on as I browse the aisles.
🫖 What does chai taste like?
Chai is a tea made with mixed chai spices and a base tea, such as black tea. The tea will carry a range of aromas and flavors, depending on the specific blend and base tea. These are the words used to describe how chai tea tastes:
- sweet cinnamon
- fragrant cloves
- pungent black pepper
- like gingerbread - why does chai tea taste like gingerbread? Because some of the same spices are used in masala chai tea blends as are used to make gingerbread!
- like pumpkin pie - why does chai tea taste like pumpkin? Because the spice blend we use in the United States with pumpkin (pumpkin pie spice, it's often called) are some of the same spices used in chai tea blends. It's the spices we associate with pumpkin that make us think chai tastes like pumpkin.
🥣 How is chai tea made?
Chai is a tea blend made with mixed spices and a base tea, such as black tea. The spices typically used for traditional chai are: cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, black pepper, cloves, star anise.
But, many other ingredients used to create a unique taste may be added, such as: licorice root, fennel seed, ramon nut, peppermint, turmeric, coconut, tulsi holy basil, vanilla bean, sarsaparilla root, lychee, rose, chocolate, dandelion and more!
While black tea is most common, there are different types of chai made with rooibos tea, green tea, oolong tea, pu-erh tea or with no base tea leaves at all. There are many masala (definition: mixed spices) chai tea blends that are caffeine free.
☕️ Do chai tea lattes have caffeine?
Yes, because chai tea is most commonly made with a base tea, along with various spices, it typically does contain caffeine. The spices do not contain caffeine, but the base black, green, oolong or pu-erh teas do have caffeine to varying degrees.
A chai tea latte is chai tea that is made with milk and sugar. It's milky, creamy and can be served warm or hot. For a vegan chai tea latte, use one of these tasty non dairy milk alternatives that taste best for tea.
Oolong, green, pu-erh, white and black teas are all made using a different process, but all come from the same camellia sinensis tea plant.
If the chai is made with rooibos tea (like the rooibos chai pictured with my vegan pumpkin pie below) or only herbal tisanes and botanicals, then it is most likely caffeine-free.
So, if you're enjoying chai tea, find out what type of base tea you're drinking. Is it black? Green? Or, rooibos? This will help you understand the different flavors you're tasting and how much caffeine is in the cup.
- Black chai tea has about 50-75mg of caffeine in an 8 ounce cup of tea.
- Oolong chai tea has about 30-45mg of caffeine in an 8 ounce cup of tea.
- Green chai tea has about 15-25mg of caffeine in an 8 ounce cup of tea.
- Rooibos chai tea is caffeine-free.
Yes, chai tea is vegan as long as you do not add dairy milk or honey to it. Chai is normally prepared with milk, so make it creamy by adding oat milk or soy milk and sweeten with sugar or agave.
Chai tea is sweet! The warming spices combined with black tea, traditionally is not bitter. It is especially sweet because sugar is added, along with milk. The only reason chai might have a bitter taste, is if the black tea is very concentrated and not enough milk or sugar has been added to dilute the tea concentrate that has been prepared.
Chai tea does taste like cinnamon, but not just cinnamon. There are several spices combined with the cinnamon to make a complex and delicious drink.
Starbucks chai tea latte is very sweet, milky and slightly spicy. Save some money and make your own Starbucks iced chai tea latte at home! To make it vegan, switch out the dairy milk for soy milk or oat milk.
Iced chai latte tastes sweet, creamy, warm (even though it's iced!) and a little spicy. It's very refreshing on a hot day!
Chai means "tea" in Hindi, a language spoken in India.
Masala chai tea can be served as a hot beverage, a warm drink or as an iced tea latte. All are delicious and refreshing served with a wide range of food!
A dirty chai is a chai tea latte with a shot of espresso added to it.
🍊 Recipes that pair well with chai tea
Chai tea pairs well with rich stews, curries, roasted vegetables and more! Serve hot or iced chai tea lattes with the vegan saag paneer, roasted curried cauliflower, cumin seed rice and vegan chickpea spinach curry recipes below.