What does chai taste like?

Chai is a mild, milky drink, which in Indian culture is considered a health drink. Traditionally, chai is made with spices like cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and black pepper.

Tea is one of the most popular drinks in the world and there are many different varieties. Depending on your location, tea may come served strong and black, with a slice of lemon, or with a plate of biscuits; but one thing is for sure, tea can bring people together like no other beverage on the planet.  

If you are a tea fanatic, you have probably heard about the power of chai and likely want to get in on the action.

This ancient drink is often served in India but it has now become a popular, and some might say trendy, drink in the west. If you’re keen to get to know more about chai, let us introduce you.  

What Is Chai Tea? 

In the western world, people have messed with the original idea of chai tea and as such, it is widely accepted to be a spicy tea drink with strong hints of cinnamon and cardamom that is completely different to regular tea.

However, when we look at the origins of this drink, over in India, we see that people in this country have been preparing tea this way for as far back as they can remember and there’s nothing exotic or different about it.

While in the USA and UK, we may be used to making tea using milk and sugar, the Indians have their own way of preparing it. 

You see, chai is the Hindi word for tea, so when you ask for a chai tea, you’re simply asking for a tea tea. In India, chai is one of the most cherished beverages and if you visit this great nation, you’ll be seeing a lot of it.

The idea of chai dates back to when the British had massive colonies over in India and the local people wanted to create their own version of English tea. They did this by adding various spices into the mix including cloves and cinnamon. 

What Ingredients Are In Masala Chai? 

Masala chai is one of the most well-loved tea recipes in India and many of us here in the west have fallen in love with its warm, rich, aromatic taste. But for a lot of us, we only ever purchase this chai from cafes and so, are not sure what it is made from. 

Masala chai is made by brewing a spoonful of black tea leaves in milk and water. Where those of us in the west may leave the tea at the, Masala chai goes on to include a variety of spices.

There is a traditional recipe, but over the years and depending on the taste of the person making the chai, you might taste many different herbs.  

Traditionally, Masala chai would feature a spice blend known as karha. This mix has very strong notes of ginger and cardamom but it will also include star anise, fennel, peppercorn, cinnamon, cloves, honey, nutmeg, and vanilla.  

Does Chai Have Caffeine? 

Chai is made using tea from the tea plant which has naturally occurring caffeine, this is something that you cannot get away from. However, the good news is that drinking true Indian chai won’t be anywhere near as damaging as gulping down a cup of steaming hot coffee.  

Many of us are used to drinking coffee as though it is water and don’t even think about the effects that caffeine might have. We would need a whole other post to talk about this but in short, too much caffeine can cause high blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia and digestive issues.  

Typically, a regular sized cup of chai could have anywhere between 20mg and 100mg of caffeine. However, by steeping the chai, this caffeine level could be reduced by as much as 80%. 

What Does Chai Latte Taste Like? 

With all those spices included in the chai mix, you could be forgiven for thinking that this drink will be ridiculously overpowering. But the good news is that this is an incredibly sweet drink with a spicy edge. But it is not a spicy kick that will blow your head off, instead chai is much more warming and rich.  

When you purchase a chai latte, it is typically made using foamed milk and this gives it a frothy and creamy texture. Compared to a normal cup of chai, chai lattes are a little heavier since they are not made using plant-based milks.  

When we think of the word latte, we normally associate this with coffee and so you might expect that the chai latte has a coffee taste. But this is a common misconception.

Latte is the Italian word for milk and when you buy a caffe latte, you are ordering a coffee milk. Therefore, when you order a chai latte, you are ordering a tea milk. 

That being said, some cafes and bars will serve a dirty chai which comes with a dash of espresso giving it a more coffee-like flavor.  

How To Make Homemade Chai Tea 

While there may be a lot of chai tea bags and powders on the shelves of your local grocery store, these just aren’t the same as making your own chai tea from scratch. The internet is filled with a plethora of chai recipes and this can quickly become overwhelming.

For us, we like this one from the BBC. It uses traditional ingredients and a touch of brown sugar to give the drink a delightfully sweet hit. 

Summary 

Chai is the HIndi word for tea and this beverage is the Indian take on a western cup of tea. Instead of only using milk, water and tea, this recipe involves using a range of spices to create a warming and rich yet sweet drink.