Make your own barista quality Chai Latte at home with my easy recipe. This rich and creamy Chai Latte has a right balance of sweet & spicy aromatic Chai Spice flavors infused to perfection! An ultimate warming winter drink! Based off the incredible and variable chai drinks served throughout India, Chai Lattes are a modern coffeehouse spin that will pep up your tea routine or caffeine addiction.
Best of all, you can make it at home with easily available ingredients.
What is Chai?
While black tea, from the Camellia sinensis plant, was originally discovered in China, British colonists in South Asia noted that tea plants also grew wild in the state of Assam. They realized the area was perfect for tea cultivation to feed the growing demand back home in Great Britain and established large tea plantations there in the 1830s.
Once the British established commercial tea production in India, they started marketing tea to Indians using tea breaks for factory workers and funding chai wallahs, or chai drink vendors, along railroads.
Indians began adding their own spin on British tea by adding milk and some spices to their tea and modern CHAI culture began to take shape.
The most basic Chai is a kind of tea, usually black, boiled with water, spices, milk, and sweetener. There are also regional and family variations, such as different spice blends, the addition of nuts, a pinch of salt, or the use of green tea.
No matter the changes, almost all chai follows the same formula.
What is Chai Latte?
Chai Latte is black tea infused with spices and finished off with frothy milk. While Indian Chai has its origins in 19th century British colonialism, Chai Latte became a staple of American coffeehouses by 1994. Like Chai, it includes tea, water, spices, some kind of sweetener, and of course plenty of milk.
It also starts the same as chai – tea, spices, and sweetener simmered in water but then steamed and frothed milk are added, giving the Chai Latte an incredible richness and a pillowy topping.
Chai Latte vs. Masala Chai
A chai latte is very similar to chai but carries an important distinction.
It includes frothy steamed milk on top, like a coffee or espresso-based latte.
Sometimes it can be sweeter or contain more milk like an espresso latte, but the milk froth is what makes it a Chai Latte instead of just regular old Chai.
The ingredients for a chai latte are the same as a chai except for the quantities.
Tea: Black tea is the most traditional for making a chai or chai latte, especially Assam tea. You can also use Ceylon, Darjeeling, English breakfast, or even green tea if you’re in a pinch. Loose leaf tea is preferred–but it will still taste good with tea bags!
Milk: Whole milk is perfect for a chai latte, though you can keep it dairy-free with plant-based milks like oat or soy too. You’ll want one suitable for steaming and foaming.
Spices: This really depends on personal preference. Keep it simple with just some fresh ginger or a few cracked green cardamom pods, or use both and also include cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and black peppercorns for an incredibly aromatic chai latte.
Experiment with fennel seeds, coriander seeds, star anise, and nutmeg as well. I have a recipe for Chai Spice blend. Whole spices are preferred, but you can use dried and ground if that’s all you have. Ground cinnamon makes an excellent garnish!
Sweetener: Granulated white sugar is the most common sweetener to use. If you want some complexity, jaggery–a kind of unrefined cane sugar–works very well. Brown sugar, honey, and maple syrup also add sweetness without overwhelming the spice and flavor of the chai.
How to make a Chai Latte (Stepwise Photos)
Making a chai latte involves two stages: preparing the chai concentrate and preparing the milk. You can make the chai concentrate ahead and refrigerate for a week.
For the chai concentrate, you first need to prepare the whole spices like cloves, cinnamon sticks, black peppercorns, and cardamom pods are a great combination for this recipe.
Crush them in a mortar and pestle/ grinder or under a heavy object like a rolling pin or frying pan. I use my grinder.
They don’t need to be pulverized to powder, as you’ll remove them before serving. But if you want stronger spice flavors, make a fine powder. Toasting the spices before you crush them brings out extra fragrance.
You can use either black tea bags or loose leaf tea according to your preference.
To sweeten the chai latte, you may use sugar, maple syrup or any other sweetener of choice. You will also need a little Vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste.
Add the crushed spices to a saucepan with water, sugar and bagged or loose-leaf tea or tea powder.
Bring it to a boil and simmer for 3 to 4 mins. Boiling loose tea for too long imparts bitter tones. Add Vanilla extract. Turn off and Let it steep for about 10 mins.
Strain to get rid of the whole spices.
You can either refrigerate the chai concentrate to use later or keep it warm to serve immediately.
Now you must froth the milk. Over medium-high heat, heat the milk in a sauce-pan until you see steam coming. Do not boil. Turn off the heat as soon as you see the milk begins to steam.
Pour the milk to a heat proof mason jar or a tall jar (16 oz or 500 ml). Make sure milk is only filled up to half the jar. Milk should be hot but not boiling hot.
Using a frothing wand/ milk frother, froth the milk for 25 to 35 seconds, until the milk is frothy. If you do not have a frother, simply cover the mason jar tightly and begin to shake shake and shake, until frothy.
Bring the Chai Latte together by adding the warm chai concentrate to a cup or mug. Use chai as required. I prefer a stronger chai latter so use up the entire concentrate. You may start with ½ to ¾ of the prepared concentrate.
Then adding the warmed milk and topping everything with the delicious milk froth.
Garnish Chai Latte if desired with cinnamon. Drink and enjoy!
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
To Make Chai Concentrate
- 2 to 3 tea bags (or 1 to 1½ teaspoon tea powder)
- ⅔ cup water
- 1 tablespoon sugar (or maple syrup or any other sweetener)
- 3 to 4 green cardamoms (or ¼ teaspoon ground)
- 1 to 1½ inch cinnamon piece (not cassia)
- 4 black pepper (optional, or ⅛ teaspoon crushed)
- 2 to 3 cloves
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
To Make Latte
- 1 cup whole milk (or plant milk)
Make Chai Concentrate
- Grind or crush cinnamon, cloves, green cardamoms (deseeded) & black pepper to a coarse powder. You can use a spice grinder, mortar & pestle or a rolling pin for this.3 to 4 green cardamoms, 4 black pepper, 2 to 3 cloves, 1 to 1½ inch cinnamon piece
- Pour water to a sauce pan and add all the ground spices, sugar & tea. Bring it to a rolling boil on a medium high heat and simmer for 3 to 4 mins, until the chai reduces to nearly ⅓ cup. Add vanilla and turn off the heat.2 to 3 tea bags, ⅔ cup water, 1 tablespoon sugar, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- For stronger flavors, you may cover and let steep for about 10 mins. Strain through a strainer. Your chai concentrate is ready. If you prefer a warm Chai Latte, keep it warm or refrigerate for later use.
How to Make Chai Latte
- Pour milk to sauce pan and begin to heat it on a medium-high heat until you begin to see steam coming from the milk. At this stage milk is hot but not boiling.1 cup whole milk
- Turn off and pour to a heat proof 16 OZ (500 ml) mason jar and secure the lid tightly. Shake the jar carefully until the milk turns frothy. If you have a frother, froth it for 25 to 35 seconds until foamy.
- Pour ½ to ¾ of the prepared chai concentrate and top with the milk and froth.
- Garnish Chai Latter with cinnamon if you want. Taste test and add more chai concentrate for stronger flavors.
- I prefer strong flavors in my chai latte. So I use up all of the prepared concentrate for 1 serving.
- For stronger spice & aromatic flavors, grind the spices to a fine powder. Also let the decoction steep for 10 mins after it is prepared.
- If you prefer lighter chai flavors, keep the quantity of spices same but use less concentrate.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
Watch Chai Latte Video
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me
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