Chai Latte Vs Chai Tea

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Chai is one of the most consumed beverages in the world. It’s comforting, delicious, and provides just the right kick to keep you going. Chai latte is similar to chai tea but both of these beverages have a few key differences that set them apart. 

Chai latte vs chai tea, what’s the difference? Chai tea is traditionally made by steeping loose tea leaves with whole Indian spices. The steeped mixture is then mixed with warm milk to create a cup of chai. Chai latte is made similarly but with the addition of frothed milk to give it a creamier finish.

Read below to learn more about these refreshing beverages and how you can make them at home without fancy equipment! 

Chai Tea

First of all, the word “chai” already means tea in the English language. So, when you say chai tea, you are essentially saying “tea tea”. 

Now that we have got that out of the way, let’s take a look at a brief history of chai.  

Chai is made from loose black tea leaves and its history is closely tied to Indian culture.

Originally used for medicinal purposes, chai tea slowly transformed from an invigorating elixir into something that could be enjoyed by people of all ages. 

Tea leaves are available in several different varieties, but the recipe for chai has remained the same for centuries.

The original recipe calls for high-quality black tea leaves and a combination of up to four whole spices: cardamon, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger.  

The tea leaves are slowly boiled in hot water along with spices and ginger to extract their flavor. Once the tea is brewed it can then be mixed with warm milk and sugar. 

Other varieties of chai may also contain additional whole spices like nutmeg, black pepper, allspice, and even garnishes like chopped almonds!

But in the mainstream market, chai tea is a simple and wholesome beverage that can be prepared in under 10 minutes.

Chai Latte

Chai latte is a mixture of different tea cultures. As the popularity of chai grew, its demand slowly crossed borders and it was eventually influenced by the coffee culture during the late 1990s.

This is when people started to experiment with chai to make it more suitable for the global market. 

Enter: foamed milk. 

Baristas discovered that chai could also be paired with steamed or foamy milk to give it a lighter, yet creamier texture. 

In addition to this change, many baristas also began adding additional garnishes like fresh cinnamon powder to give the beverage a refreshing finish.

Chai latte soon took over the coffee scene in many parts of the world and its popularity continues to grow even today!

It is important to note that while the primary difference between chai and chai latte is the addition of frothed milk, regular chai can also be prepared in different ways to give it a creamier texture, which further blurs the line between what is considered chai tea and chai latte.

Before we dive into the method for preparing chai, let’s first take a look at some of its main characteristics:

Characteristics of Chai Tea and Chai Latte

Here are the differences between Chai Tea and Chai Latte:


Chai is a mixture of many different subtle flavors. For example, the black tea leaves provide a robust and slightly bitter flavor which is combined with warm, sweet, and spicy notes to make a highly comforting and refreshing beverage.

Chai also provides hints of ginger and subtle vanilla notes due to the addition of cardamom pods. When sugar is added, the beverage takes on a deliciously sweet flavor that ties everything together.

Chai latte on the other hand provides all the same flavors but with more prominent notes from the added cinnamon.

The milk can also be seasoned with spices or sugar to give it an altered flavor. Overall, chai latte is generally considered to be a bit sweeter with light spicy notes.


In Indian culture, the color of chai is considered to be an extremely important indicator of its quality. Generally speaking, the paler the color, the less flavorful the chai will be. 

Chai tea has a light brown to dark brown color depending on how long the tea leaves were steeped before the milk was added. 

Fun fact: the color hex code of chai is #B77729, which equates to a mild-to-strong tea! 

Chai latte is a bit lighter due to the addition of frothed milk, and when the beverage is mixed, it will provide a lighter shade of brown than regular chai. 


Since chai is prepared in water, it has a slightly runnier texture which can be made creamier with the addition of whole milk. Traditionally, steeped chai is mixed with milk over medium heat and then repeatedly mixed to aerate it which results in a creamier cup of tea.

Chai latte is prepared in the same way as a regular latte which means that it will have a distinctly thick, frothy, and creamy texture. It’s important to note that chai latte is more likely to maintain its texture as it sits in the cup than chai tea which generally “loosens” as it cools down.

Here’s a summary of the differences between chai and chai latte:

Chai TeaChai Latte
FlavorCan be strong. Has prominent sweet, spicy, and warm notes.Not as strong. Sweeter notes with spicy undertones with hints of vanilla and cinnamon. 
ColorGolden brown to dark brownLight brown
TextureCreamy with a slightly runnier consistencyThick, creamy, and frothy. 
Prepared usingBlack tea leaves and Indian spices.

Making the Perfect Cup of Chai Tea and Chai Latte

Making chai tea is extremely easy and once you get a hang of it, you can make coffee-house-level chai at home in just three easy steps.

Here’s how to make chai tea concentrate:


  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 1 tsp of loose black tea or 1-2 black tea bags
  • ⅔ cup whole Milk or a non-dairy substitute
  • A small stick of ginger-crushed
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 small stick of cinnamon


Step 1) Bring the water to a simmer, then add the tea leaves, cardamom pods, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Let the ingredients simmer over low heat until you are left with about a cup of water.

Step 2) Strain the mixture and discard the leftovers. This mixture will be the base of your chai tea or chai latte.

Chai) Add the prepared tea base back into the pot and bring it to a boil. Add milk and then keep whisking the mixture until the chai becomes creamy. Pour in a cup and add sugar to taste!

Chai Latte) Pour half of the prepared chai concentrate into a cup. Separately, lightly warm the milk and aerate it using a blender – or add air by pumping warm milk in a French press. Pour the frothed milk over the chai concentrate and top with a dash of cinnamon powder. Enjoy!

Note) When making chai latte, you can add sugar either before or after adding the frothed milk. You may also flavor the milk with sugar or cinnamon before frothing it. 

Please note that chai tea concentrate can be prepared with an assortment of different spices.

Some people like to add black cardamom pods along with black pepper, and even allspice to give the tea a spicier flavor but you can use your favorite whole spices for a customized chai!

Since the base for chai and chai latte is the same, the choice between the two will come down to your personal preference. If you enjoy a stronger and more traditional tea, then we recommend going with regular chai tea. 

But if you want a creamier and more mainstream flavor that is typically found in most coffee houses, then we highly recommend going with chai latte as it will provide more or less the same flavor but with an additionally creamy texture. 

Related Questions

Chai latte and chai tea are both very refreshing beverages that can be prepared in any way you like. Now that you know the differences between the two, here are some related questions:

Can you use ground spices to make chai?

You can use ground spices to make chai but traditionally, chai tea is made using whole or crushed spices. 

Straining finely ground spices can be difficult and may even ruin the texture of the tea as the particles will likely make it into the cup. Try using coarsely ground spices so that they are easier to separate when you strain the mixture. 

What is the best way to store chai?

The base mixture for chai can be stored in the fridge at 40F for about 2 weeks. Strain and store the mixture in an airtight jar for the best experience. If you have added milk to the chai then we recommend storing it in the fridge and consuming it within 2-3 days. 

Chai prepared with milk will likely lose its original texture and become flat the longer it is stored. For the best experience, always add milk only when preparing a fresh cup of chai tea. 

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