Chai Latte Coffee or Tea

Chai Latte Coffee or Tea

If you are fond of experimenting with your beverages, give Chai latte a try. It is a hot and milky drink that originated from India where it is considered to have a great cultural significance. This drink is becoming famous because it is offered in most Starbucks stores. Is Chai latte coffee or tea?  In this article, we will try to find out what Chai latte is and if it is closely related to your favorite cup of joe. 

Chai latte coffee or tea: What it is and how is it different from coffee?

Chai latte is a hot and milky beverage made with black tea and mixed spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and ginger.  It originally came from India thousands of years ago where it is of massive cultural relevance. While most people believe it is a new beverage trend, it is an ancient beverage with a rich history. 

It is different from coffee because it does not contain any although they are both similar since they are both served hot or iced and with milk. They also both contain caffeine in varying amounts. Surprisingly, they are also both served and available in Starbucks stores. 

The reason why people tend to associate Chai latte with coffee could be due to the “latte” in its name which means milk in Italian. While caffe latte is coffee with milk, chai latte is tea with spices and milk. Chai latte is better known as masala chai, with masala meaning spices in Indian. Chai could include different spices starting with cardamom and mixed with ginger, star anise and cloves while other people mix it with pepper, coriander, nutmeg and fennel.

Chai latte is typically prepared by brewing a strong loose black tea originating from the Indian state of Assam with warming spices like nutmeg, cardamom and ginger as well as saffron, nutmeg and cinnamon. Cafes in London and San Francisco that serve chai latte also use black pepper. The traditional preparation of masala chai or chai latte is by steeping black tea in water and mixing it with sugar, ginger and milk. Other spices may be added like cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. 

Chai has been grown in India for many years and the word chai originates from the Hindustani word to mean all and any tea grown in the Assam region.  Masala chai first emerged in the Indian subcontinent around 9,000 years ago and it was said to originate in a royal court in Siam as a beverage associated with Ayurveda, the ancient Indian form of alternative medicine.  Ayurvedic therapies involved the use of metals and herbal compounds to treat illness or pain. 

Does Chai latte contain caffeine?

Yes, a Chai latte contains caffeine since it is made using black tea which has caffeine. Black, green or white tea may contain around 14 to 61 mg of caffeine for every eight-ounce serving. Starbucks claims their chai latte has around 95 mg of caffeine for every 16 fluid ounces or 450 ml drink.  The amount of caffeine may vary depending on how strong the Chai tea was brewed and how much of it was added to the chai latte. 

Some people opt for chai latte because they believe it cuts caffeine content to over 50% and could reduce the risk of jitters and caffeine shock.  Some claim that a 4.5-ounce cup of chai latte usually contains around 40 mg caffeine as opposed to 120 mg of caffeine if it were a cup of coffee. 

Is a Chai latte a good substitute for coffee?

Yes, a Chai latte could be a good substitute for coffee but this will depend mostly on what you are trying to achieve. If you are looking for a healthier option, a Chai latte may be better because it contains less caffeine compared to a regular latte with espresso shots. However, a Chai latte is a sweetened drink and may also contain toppings so if you are watching your calories it may not be the best choice. Plain chai may be a better alternative as it does not have as much milk or sugar in it. 

What is a dirty Chai latte?

If you like the Chai latte but want it to be stronger, you need a dirty Chai latte. It simply means a regular Chai latte but with a shot of espresso. The flavor will change and it will not be as milky or smooth as a regular Chai latte because it will have bitter and earthy tones. Since it is a stronger drink it will also mean more caffeine content since an espresso shot has around 67 mg of caffeine.  Some people may even opt for a double dirty Chai latte which means you will have two shots of espresso on your Chai latte.


If you’ve become bored with your usual cup of joe, try Chai latte and you might as well surprise yourself.  Chai latte is a hot and milky beverage that is made with black tea and mixed with spices like cardamom, cinnamon and ginger. It contains caffeine just like regular coffee but at a lesser amount. It may be a healthier substitute for coffee but it also contains calories because it is sweetened and may contain toppings. 

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