Basically, chai is just a mixed tea. It’s black tea that’s blended with a multitude of spices. However, we’ve become accustomed to preparing it a certain way and labeling it as chai tea, or a chai latte.
With the current method of chai tea preparation, chai tastes warm and spicy with some sweetness. You’ll likely be able to pick out notes of cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, and cardamom, among other spices. If you get a chai latte, the texture will be richer and creamier with the addition of milk.
While you can order chai tea and drink it black, it’s fairly uncommon. Traditionally, chai tea was brewed with milk and that tradition tends to continue today.
At present, it’s common to request a chai latte, but most chai is made with the inclusion of milk. For the most part tea vs latte are just semantical.
What Does Chai Tea Consist Of
Ordinarily, chai tea consists of four elements: tea, milk, spices, and a sweetener.
While you can have other bases for your tea, such as green, a majority of chai will have a base of black tea.
Black tea has more flavor than other types of tea. It tastes rich, earthy, nutty, and smoky. You can also taste hints of caramel and honey.
Almost all chai tea will contain milk. The most common type of milk for chai is whole. While it is becoming somewhat popular to use other types of milk in chai, whole milk is still best.
Using whole milk in your chai tea will produce a rich, thicker tea. It also tends to blend while with the spices used.
The blend of spices varies depending on the tea maker. However, some of the most popular ones are:
If these spices are used, you’ll often get a mixture that has a nice balance of sweet, spicy and warm.
Conventionally, white sugar is used as a sweetener for a chai latte. However, recently, other forms of sweeteners are becoming popular.
Things like brown sugar and maple syrup are starting to become more common. Because they have a sweetness that tastes somewhat like caramel, they highlight the spices nicely.
Like other lattes, you’ll get a nice creamy texture with foam on top. The foam texture, however, will vary based on the kind of milk chosen.
As we said earlier, whole milk is the most popular, and with it, you’ll get a thick, creamy foam. If you use almond or soy milk, expect a lighter foam that is more bubbly.
Unlike some other teas, chai tea is highly aromatic. Due to the blend of spices, it’s a complex smell that’s often labeled as warm.
Again, depending on which spices are chosen, the aroma can differ somewhat. However, it’s common to have sweet, warm, spicy aromas. Usually you can name cinnamon, vanilla, and ginger as stand out smells.
Others Ways to Drink Chai
You might not think about Starbucks as being the authority on chai. However, they are a popular place to order your drink from.
In addition to a classic chai latte, they also have an iced chai latte and a dirty chai latte.
Iced Chai Latte
While traditionally, a chai latte is made hot, you can get one iced. However, there are some differences in flavor and consistency. It’s not just throwing some ice cubes in a hot latte.
In an iced chai latte from Starbucks, there is no water. The ice cubes are supposed to act as the water. So what you’re really drinking is black tea, milk, spices, and sugar.
The hot water in a typical latte tends to help enhance and develop the various spices. Therefore, an iced latte may be somewhat less flavorful.
Dirty Chai Latte
A dirty chai latte is a regular hot chai latte with the inclusion of a shot of espresso.
This means you’ll be getting a tea/coffee hybrid drink. In addition to making your beverage higher in caffeine, the espresso might make your drink somewhat more bitter.
So, overall, chai tastes warm, sweet, and spicy. Since it is often brewed with milk, it has a wonderfully creamy and rich consistency.
The fun thing about chai is that the spices are up to you. Try a few different blends and see which is your favorite.