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What Is Chai Latte?

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What Is Chai Latte?

Chai tea, a spiced, sweet and unique blend originating in India.

This spicy, vibrant tea blend usually contains a mix of black tea with cardamom, cloves, ginger and cinnamon, and it’s not uncommon for vanilla and star anise to be added. There’s no set Chai recipe, so you can adapt it as you please. 

What Is Chai Tea?

Chai (also known as masala tea) is a blend of black tea and spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves and black peppercorns, which is typically served strong with milk.

You can steep the Chai in water and then add milk, or you can simmer the Chai itself in a mixture of milk and water or just milk to make a Chai latte. 

Shop Chai Tea

Where Does Chai Come From?

Chai originated in the Indian subcontinent. Wild tea plants grew in the Assam region of India, as noticed by British colonists in the 1830s, who began to cultivate the plant. However, consumption of Indian tea in Britain didn’t take off until the late 19th Century, with over 90% of tea still being of Chinese origin in the 1870s. The end of the century saw Indian-grown tea gain immensely in popularity, and by 1900 Chinese tea consumption had dropped to just 10%.

Drinking Chai Tea

However, tea, which was historically used in medicine in India rather than as a beverage, still wasn’t a popular drink in India until the early 20th Century. The Indian Tea Association encouraged employers to give their staff tea breaks and supported independent tea vendors. These vendors, which were commonly found on rail routes around the country, took to substituting some of the tea leaves in their tea with spices and a high volume of milk and sugar, to reduce their costs.

Despite the Indian Tea Association’s disapproval, ‘Masala Chai’ became firmly established as the delicious beverage we know today.

Where Does Chai Come From?

Does Chai Latte Have Caffeine?

Because Chai latte contains tea leaves, as well as a delicious mix of spices, it does contain caffeine. The exact amount depends on the proportion of tea leaves to spices used in the recipe and how long the tea is left to brew.

Does Chai Latte Have Caffeine?
How to Make Chai Latte

How to Make Chai Latte

To prepare Chai latte (or chai tea) with a tea bag:

• Using a tall glass mug, pour hot water over the tea bag (fill to about a third of the way up)

• Leave to brew for 3-4 minutes

• While your tea is brewing, froth enough milk to fill the mug

• After 3-4 minutes, remove the tea bag and top the mug up with frothed milk

• Finish with a dusting of cinnamon

Prepare Chai Latte

To Prepare a Chai Latte From Scratch

• Lightly toast cinnamon sticks, ginger, star anise, cardamom pods, cloves and peppercorns in a pan for around 3 minutes. The amounts of each are entirely down to your taste, and this is a great opportunity to experiment, but as a starting point, we suggest (serves 4)

Ingredients: 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 x 1-2 inch piece of fresh ginger (sliced), 1 star anise, 8 cardamom pods, 5 cloves and 8 peppercorns.

• Place the spices in a teapot of hot water (about 1 pint) with 3 black tea bags of your choice (Assam is one of our favourites!) and the ginger.

• Steep for 5-10 minutes to taste.

• While the tea is brewing, heat 1 pint of milk with your choice of sweetener (e.g. brown sugar), then froth with a milk frother or immersion blender.

• To serve, strain tea into glasses and top up with frothed milk. Use around 1/3 tea to 2/3 milk.

• Finish with a dusting of cinnamon

Related Recipes

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    Twinings Spicy Chai and Pumpkin Spice syrup mixed with steamed milk. We think this is the ultimate definition of an autumn flavours inspired treat.
  • Salted Caramel Chai Latte

    A rich and creamy authentic Chai Latte with a hint of salted caramel. Caramel syrup and crushed sea salt, then top with hot steamed milk and chocolate powder.
  • Ovaltine Chai Shake

    Warm up with a hot Ovaltine Chai Shake on a cold winter day or enjoy a cold shake on a hot summer day! Either way, this deliciously spicy recipe is perfect for a quick pick-me-up!