Decoding the Battle: Chai Latte Vs Chai Tea

Chai Latte vs. Chai Tea: Exploring the differences

Chai is a beloved beverage enjoyed by people all over the world. Its rich flavors and soothing properties make it a popular choice for those seeking a warm and invigorating beverage. While chai latte and chai tea may sound similar, there are distinct differences between the two. In this article, we will explore the characteristics, flavors, and preparation methods of chai latte and chai tea.

Chai Tea: A Traditional Delight

Chai tea, also known as masala chai, has deep roots in Indian culture. Traditionally, chai tea is prepared by steeping loose tea leaves with a combination of whole Indian spices. The recipe for chai tea has remained unchanged for centuries, with variations in the types and proportions of spices used.
The main ingredients of chai tea include high-quality black tea leaves and a blend of spices such as cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and ginger. These ingredients are boiled in water to extract their flavors, resulting in a robust and aromatic brew. After brewing, the tea is typically mixed with warm milk and sugar to create a balanced and flavorful cup of chai tea.
Chai tea offers a delightful combination of warm, sweet and spicy flavors. The black tea leaves provide a robust and slightly bitter flavor that is complemented by the aromatic notes of the spices. The addition of ginger adds a subtle kick to the overall flavor profile. When sweetened with sugar, chai tea becomes a deliciously sweet and comforting beverage.

Chai Latte: A Fusion of Cultures

Chai Latte is a variation of chai tea influenced by the global coffee culture. As the popularity of chai spread beyond its origins, baristas began experimenting with the traditional recipe to make it more accessible to a broader audience. This led to the creation of the chai latte, which combines the flavors of chai tea with the creamy texture of frothed milk.
The main difference between chai latte and chai tea is the addition of steamed milk. To make a chai latte, a portion of chai tea concentrate is mixed with steamed or steamed milk. The frothed milk adds a lighter and creamier texture to the beverage, similar to that of a traditional latte. Some baristas also enhance the chai latte experience by garnishing it with fresh cinnamon powder or other spices.
Chai Latte shares many flavor characteristics with chai tea, but there are some variations. The addition of steamed milk gives chai latte a smoother and more indulgent mouthfeel. The milk itself may be flavored with spices or sugar, further enhancing the flavor profile. Overall, chai latte tends to have a slightly sweeter taste with lighter spicy undertones compared to chai tea.

Characteristics of chai tea and chai latte

To better understand the differences between chai tea and chai latte, let’s explore their characteristics in terms of flavor, color, and texture:
Chai tea offers a complex combination of flavors, with robust black tea notes and a harmonious blend of warm, sweet, and spicy elements. The addition of ginger and cardamom adds subtle hints of vanilla. Sweetening the tea with sugar brings all the flavors together in a delightful way. Chai Latte has similar flavor profiles, but with more pronounced notes from the added cinnamon. The milk used in chai latte can also be flavored with spices or sugar, changing the overall flavor experience.
In Indian culture, the color of chai is considered an important indicator of its quality. Chai tea is typically light to dark brown in color, depending on how long the tea leaves are steeped before milk is added. The color hex code for chai is often represented as #B77729, which symbolizes a mild to strong tea. Chai latte, on the other hand, has a lighter shade of brown due to the presence of frothed milk.
Chai tea, which is made by boiling tea leaves and spices in water, has a slightly runny texture. However, when mixed with milk, it becomes creamier. The traditional method of preparing chai involves mixing the steeped tea with milk over medium heat, stirring repeatedly to aerate and create a creamy cup of tea. In contrast, chai latte follows the same preparation process as a regular latte, resulting in a thick, frothy, creamy texture. Chai latte tends to retain its texture better than chai tea as it cools.

How to make the perfect chai tea and chai latte

Now that we’ve explored the differences between chai tea and chai latte, let’s delve into the methods for making these delicious beverages:
Chai Tea:
Making chai tea is a relatively simple process that can be done at home with a few basic ingredients. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making chai tea:

  1. In a saucepan, add water and bring to a boil.
  2. Add black tea leaves and the desired combination of spices (cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ginger).
  3. Reduce the heat to low and allow the tea and spices to infuse for 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add the milk to the saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  5. Stir in sugar or liquid sweetener to taste.
  6. Strain chai tea into cups and serve hot.

Chai Latte:
To make a delicious chai latte, you need chai tea concentrate and milk. Here’s how to make it:

  1. Start by brewing a strong cup of chai tea using the method above or a pre-made chai tea concentrate.
  2. In a separate saucepan, heat the milk over medium-low heat until it steams but does not boil.
  3. Use a milk frother or whisk vigorously to foam the milk.
  4. Pour the chai tea concentrate into a mug, leaving a little space at the top.
  5. Slowly pour the frothed milk over the chai tea concentrate, allowing the foam to form on top.
  6. Garnish with cinnamon or other spices as desired.
  7. Serve hot and enjoy!


Chai latte and chai tea offer unique experiences with their distinct flavors, colors and textures. While chai tea stays true to its traditional roots, chai latte brings together the best of both chai and coffee cultures. Whether you prefer the comforting warmth of chai tea or the creamy indulgence of chai latte, both beverages are sure to delight your taste buds.
Experiment with different spices and milk variations to find your perfect cup of chai. Whether you enjoy it as a traditional tea or a modern latte, chai remains a beloved beverage enjoyed by millions around the world. So the next time you crave a spicy and aromatic beverage, try either a chai tea or a chai latte and enjoy the unique flavors they offer.


What is the main difference between chai latte and chai tea?

Chai Latte is made by combining chai tea concentrate with steamed milk, resulting in a creamy and indulgent beverage. Chai tea, on the other hand, is made by steeping loose tea leaves with whole Indian spices and is typically mixed with warm milk and sugar.

Does chai latte taste different from chai tea?

Yes, Chai Latte and Chai Tea have different flavor profiles. Chai Latte tends to be sweeter with lighter spicy undertones due to the addition of steamed milk and the potential for flavored milk. Chai Tea, on the other hand, offers a robust and slightly bitter flavor with a harmonious blend of warm, sweet and spicy elements.

Can I make chai latte without fancy equipment?

Yes, you can make Chai Latte at home without any fancy equipment. All you need is chai tea concentrate, which can be made by steeping tea leaves and spices in hot water. For frothed milk, you can whisk vigorously or use a milk frother to create foam. The key is to combine the chai tea concentrate with steamed or frothed milk for a creamy finish.

Is chai tea the same as “tea tea”?

No, the term “chai tea” is often considered redundant. In the English language, “chai” already means “tea”, so to say “chai tea” is essentially to say “tea tea”. However, the term has become widely accepted and is commonly used to refer to the spiced Indian tea drink.

Can I customize the spices in chai tea or chai latte?

Absolutely! One of the joys of making chai tea or chai latte is the ability to customize the spices to your liking. While traditional chai recipes call for spices like cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger, you can experiment with additional spices like nutmeg, black pepper, or allspice to create your own unique flavor combination.

Should chai tea or chai latte be served hot or cold?

Both chai tea and chai latte are traditionally served hot for a comforting and warming experience. However, they can also be enjoyed cold by allowing the brewed tea or latte to cool and serving it over ice. Cold versions of these beverages can be refreshing options during hot weather or when you prefer a chilled beverage.