A chai latte is one of those drinks that sounds more complicated to make than it actually is. So put down your box of chai concentrate (you know, the one with tons of sugar) and read on to discover the secrets of chai.
Breaking Down the Chai Latte
A chai latte is the Americanized term for what chai is in India. Chai is the Hindi word for tea. Masala Chai, the tea most often used in making a chai latte, means spiced tea. And latte just means with milk. Simply put, a chai latte is tea with milk.
There is no one formula for making Masala Chai; the recipe varies from house to house in India, and around the world. But there’s usually a strong black tea as the base with lots of warming spices added. Some common spices you might find are:
- black pepper
How to Make your Chai Latte
Traditionally, chai is made by steeping tea and spices in milk then adding sugar. Here’s a chai master at work:
So that’s the true, authentic way to prepare chai. Now for the lazy methods.
- Buy some Masala Chai and steep it in hot milk, using 3 tsp of tea to 1 cup of milk. Add sugar or honey. The sweetener brings out the warmth of the spices. You don’t have to use sweetener, but the brew tends to be bland without it.
- Steep Masala Chai in water for 5 – 10 minutes, again 3 tsp of tea to 1 cup of water, then add a splash of milk and sweetener. This is how we make a chai latte in the store when you order one.
- For a caffeine-free chai latte, grab some Ayurvedic Chai. Using 1 tsp of chai per cup of water, simmer it loose in the water, covered, for 20 minutes. Strain and add milk and sweetener. You also have the option of adding black tea for the last 5 minutes of simmering, but then it will be caffeinated. When I’m really in a chai mood, this is the one I make. I’ll simmer, strain, and sweeten, then keep it in the fridge and add milk as I drink a mug full. Sometimes I’ll reheat the tea, and other times I like it cold. It makes a great, and healthful, energy drink for long bike rides and hikes.
Seriously, now that you know how easy it is to make a fantastic chai latte at home ditch the box of concentrate with too much sugar and strange ingredients and make yourself a great cup of tea.