Authentic Chai Latte for One

Step aside Starbucks, there’s a new chai latte in town. This chai latte recipe is only 5 ingredients and a recipe that’s been passed down from my grandma to my mom to me. Whether you’re in the mood for a hot chai or an iced chai latte, this recipe has everything you need.

homemade chai tea latte recipe served in a glass with ice and whipped cream on top.
aerating hot chai latte at home

What is Chai Tea exactly?

There’s two answers to this question. In America, when someone says chai I’ve noticed they typically mean it as a flavor. It’s kind of a substitute for saying “spiced”, so a chai latte is a “spiced” latte. However, in India, chai just means tea. Milky tea is pretty common in various parts of the world, chai is essentially just a spiced tea. At Starbucks, however, chai lattes do contain tea, it’s just not a primary flavor. The process of simmering everything together to let the tea leaves really shine and blend with the cardamom is what makes this homemade chai latte recipe a lot more pleasant to drink.

Thoughts on the Starbucks Chai Tea Latte

Growing up, I’ve only ever seen my chai made piping hot and enjoyed with a parle g biscuit. But, I personally, am one of those people who prefers to get an iced drink that I can sip on all day while working. So one day, I decided to make an iced chai by simply pouring that over ice and it was SO GOOD. But while I was away at college, I did not have the privilege of a homemade cup of chai, so I had no option but to try the Starbucks chai tea latte & I’m sorry, but that’s not it. I have nothing against you if you like it, I think it’s good – it’s just not chai & you deserve way better. So, today we are going to learn how to make an authentic iced chai latte with my mom’s simple recipe.

What is a chai latte made of?

Most chai recipes can be broken into four main components. Although there are variations from family to family and person to person, but the general ingredients stay the same. So let’s break it down :

  1. Black Tea: In my opinion, the best tea powder for chai is loose leaf black tea from India or Pakistan. If you have an Indian/Pakistani grocery store near you, Taj Mahal, Wagh Bakhri and Red Label are great brands. I’ve also used this Tea India Assam black tea from Amazon and it’s very good!
  2. Sweetener: Most people can’t seem to agree on when you add the sugar in the chai, but they can typically agree on adding sugar to chai. There’s a lot of options for sweeteners like white sugar or jaggery, but my favorite is brown sugar!
  3. Milk: Depending on your preference, you might like your chai on the milkier side or not. Either way, make sure to be cautious with your choice of milk. I almost always use whole or 2% milk in my chai. If you prefer a dairy-free alternative, please use oat milk. This recipe can be a disaster with almond milk.
  4. Spices: The masala, aka spices, used in chai vary by region and cultural preferences. The traditional spices include cardamom, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and black peppercorns. Personally, I only use 1 spice in my daily chai – cardamom. For the best price, definitely go to an Indian grocery store because you will get a lot more for a better price point. But, if you don’t have one near you, here’s a great Indian brand you can get on Amazon. The nice thing about making your own chai at home is you can adjust the amount of spices based on YOUR preference.
chai mid boil
chai mid boil

How to make a chai latte at home

Like I said before, this is how my family makes a very simple, quick chai.

  1. Heat water in a saucepan over high heat and add in sound ground cardamom. If you would like to use other spices, you can also add a crushed cinnamon stick, cloves, ginger and a few peppercorns. Simmer 1 minute on medium heat to infuse all the flavors.
  2. Toss in the black tea leaves and make bring it to a boil over medium heat. Do not use high heat to speed it up – the longer steep will add more flavor!
  3. Add in milk and once it comes to a boil over low-medium heat, use a ladle to stir well. Lower the heat and allow to simmer for another 1-3 minutes, or less/more depending on how strong you want the chai.
  4. Raise the heat to high to allow it to come to a boil.
  5. Strain the chai into a cup and stir in the sugar. This is basically your base hot chai latte recipe. Now, if you want to turn that iced, just let it sit out or in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes and add some ice. (Note : Starbucks Chai Lattes are very sweet compared to typical chai so feel free to add more sugar – I personally like 1 tbsp of brown sugar)

What to serve with chai?

There are so many delicious combos with a warm cup of chai that will take your tea time up a notch. If you’re going down the sweet route, you can pair it with a microwave apple crisp or choose between parle g biscuits or biscoff. Mini mint chutney sandwiches also pair really well with some steaming hot chai! Samosa or pakora are also commonly paired with chai, and believe me when I tell you IT TASTES AMAZING!

homemade chai tea latte recipe served in a glass with ice and whipped cream on top.

Troubleshooting Your Chai

Chai is an intuitive process and the more you make it, the better you will get. I’ve seen chai being made my whole life, and it still took me some time to get the hang of it. So don’t get stressed out and try to feel the experience.

  • If your chai is looks too pale and not strong enough on the tea flavor, just simmer it longer on low heat! Every tea powder and stove is different, so it’s hard to standardize the time.
  • If your chai is too strong on the tea flavor, you probably over steeped it. You can add some more milk – make sure to use warm milk. Next time, simmer is a little less or use more milk.
  • If your chai is not strong on the cardamom or spices, you might be using old cardamom or simply prefer a strong cardamom flavor. Check how old your cardamom is, and if it’s recent, just add 1/2 tsp more next time. Keep adjusting until you find what you are happy with.
  • If your chai doesn’t smell like anything, then its possible you’re not storing your tea leaves or cardamom properly in an airtight container, or they’re just too old.
  • If your chai is too watery, you probably prefer a more milky chai. You have two options, you can either forget about the water all together and replace the initial water with milk or just can use more milk in the third step. I like my cup of chai to be very light so I prefer a 1/2 cup milk for cup of water ratio.
  • If your iced chai is turning our bland, you’re probably not letting the chai cool down enough before adding in your ice. In all my iced chai recipes, I always recommend letting the chai come to room temp and adding in the sugar while it’s still hot. This way the chai stays sweet without getting watered down.

Types of Chai Lattes

While I love a cup of my mom’s chai, I am no chai purist. I love to experiment with my chai by adding in different spices & herbs.

  • Gingerbread Oatmilk Chai Latte – while this concoction only got mainstream in the last year, due to Starbucks, it’s been a staple in my fall drink rotation for years. It only takes 6 ingredients & has that rich gingery, molasses flavor that’s perfect for the fall.
  • Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte – just add a pinch of this homemade pumpkin spice to your water as it simmers with the spices & you’ve got yourself a fall treat!
  • Chai Concentrate – if you’re someone who loves making iced chai at home, consider making your own chai concentrate that’s way better than Tazo and lasts a while (recipe coming soon!)

If you try this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a rating below. To be featured, you can also tag me on my Instagram!

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Authentic Chai Latte Recipe for One Person


  • Total Time: 15
  • Yield: 1 Cup of Chai 1x

Description

Swap out your Starbucks chai tea latte for a more authentic chai latte recipe! Whether you’re in the mood for a hot cup of chai or iced chai latte, this will hit the spot. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk (or more)
  • 1.5 tbsp black tea leaves
  • 13 cardamom pods (crushed) or 1 tsp ground cardamom powder
  • 1 inch knob of ginger, sliced
  • 2 tsp sugar, or to taste 

Instructions

  • Heat water in a saucepan over high heat until it comes to a simmer and add in the ground cardamom and ginger. If you’re using whole cardamom pods, just make sure to crush them first to get the seeds exposed. If you would like to use other spices, you can also add a crushed cinnamon stick, cloves, mint leaves and/or a few peppercorns. Simmer 1-2 minutes on medium heat to infuse all the flavors. Make sure to stir now and then to prevent them from settling.
  • Toss in the black tea leaves and stir, then bring it back to a low boil over medium heat. Do not use high heat to speed it up – the longer steep will make the tea flavor stronger. Bring the heat down just a little and let it simmer for 1-2 more minutes for a strong tea flavor.
  • Add in milk and stir with a spoon. Once it comes to a boil over medium heat, use a ladle to stir well. Lower the heat and allow to simmer for another 1-3 minutes, or less/more depending on how strong you want the chai. 
  • Raise the heat to high to allow it to come to a boil. This is called a double boil!
  • Strain the chai into a cup and stir in the sugar. If you want to make it iced, just let it sit out or in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes and add some ice. (Note : Starbucks Chai Lattes are very sweet compared to typical chai so feel free to add more sugar – I personally like 1 tbsp of brown sugar & dash of pumpkin spice when I’m feeling like a Starbucks latte)

If you try this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a rating below. To be featured, you can also tag me on my Instagram!

Notes

Didn’t turn out how you expected? Scroll up and check out the section labelled “Troubleshooting Your Chai”

  • Cook Time: 15

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  1. Thanks for sharing this recipe for one serving. Just made it to drink while studying and it turned out pretty good for my first time.

    1. My first time trying a chai recipe and it was bomb!

      Since I only have ground cardamom with me, so I used that the first time. But for me personally, it lacked the hint/warmth that I want so I bought cardamom pods and I’d say it’s a game changer!!

      Thanks for the recipe. Never going back to buying chai again.

      1. EatsByRamya says:

        Agreed! Whole cardamom is a game changer – glad you were able to get a hold of some and try it out Nela!

    2. EatsByRamya says:

      Thanks for trying the chai & leaving the review Mahika!

    3. Sooooo yummy! Thanks for sharing!

  2. This looks delicious! I love chai lattes and I get them a lot but this is definitely cheaper! Question: is there a way to make it ahead of time? I don’t see myself having 15 mins in the morning to make this before work.

    1. EatsByRamya says:

      Hey Alix! You can make it ahead of time for up to a few hours if you would like to make it iced. However, if you plan to drink it hot, it is much better as soon as it is made!

  3. This is SO unbelievably good. It took a couple of tries but I love that it can be adjusted to preference and I appreciate the cultural and familial history that was shared in the post; it makes this recipe that much more special to make. I’ve made this literally every day since it came out and I’m so so into it. Thank you, Ramya!!

    1. eatsbyramya Author says:

      Thank you so much for giving this recipe a try Abby! Happy to hear that our family recipe has found a place in your home 🙂

  4. Amazing! Tastes 40 times better and more flavorful than Starbucks, and it has much more depth.

  5. My 100th time making it. I’m hooked. I just always add +1 cardamom for the taste. I will keep making this. Thanks Ramya 😍

    1. eatsbyramya Author says:

      Yes! Cardamom is the essence of this chai recipe.

  6. Super tasty and easy to make. I have tri d making my own chais before and have never found anything that hits just right. I need to figure out my favored spice ratio, but this is sooo good. It’s officially my go-to now!

    1. eatsbyramya Author says:

      Woohoo! Love to hear that you are experimenting

  7. I’ve tried it out a few times now and it’s really great, thanks so much! Found this from insta reels

    1. eatsbyramya Author says:

      Thanks Maria! Enjoy 🙂

  8. Thank you so much for this~
    I worked at a tea house 10 years ago and they would make a Chai but it had 5+ different ingredients (including vanilla extract) and I’ve recreated it a couple times but that recipe takes an hour or so. Needless to say, I found your video and was shocked it could be this simple! And absolutely delicious~ cardamom for the win!! So thanks again!

  9. Hi, if we’re using tea bags then how many bags would you recommend?

    1. eatsbyramya Author says:

      Hey! You can just cut the tea bag and pour the leaves out and use the same measurement as above. Make sure it is a black tea bag 🙂

  10. Absolutely delicious!!

  11. When you say crushed cardamom is it just crushing the shell or should the seeds be cracked too? and adding it into the tea with the shell or without? Thanks!

    1. eatsbyramya Author says:

      I add it in with the shell since we strain it at the end anyways!

  12. I have been on the lookout for an authentic chai recipe since I first had one ( a little over a year ago) and I must say your recipe is the only one that has delivered! I will definitely be coming back to this recipe again and again. Soooo delicious! I added some black peppercorn for a little spice. Love that you can scale it to make more.

    1. EatsByRamya says:

      Aww very glad you enjoyed it Brionna!!

  13. Hi! I really want to try this recipe as I love chai and have yet to make it at home, but I can’t have cow’s milk. Would this recipe work with any milk alternative, and if so, do you know which one might be best? Thank you so much!

    1. EatsByRamya says:

      If you’re lactose intolerant, you could use lactose free milk! Otherwise, you could also use oat milk. The best oat milk for chai, in my opinion, is the barista one cause it’s typically thicker!

  14. Hi! What is the difference between the green cardamom pods and the little black ones? Are they interchangeable?

    1. EatsByRamya says:

      Green Cardamom is sweeter, while Black Cardamom is on my more smokey side. For sweet dishes and chai, green cardamom would be a better choice, in my opinion! I usually use black cardamom for curries and more savoury dishes.

  15. I found this on a Youtube Reels and on my first try it was delicious! I first had chai with cardamon in it when my older sister made it for me. She lived with Indian roommates for some time and from them she discovered delicious authentic chai! This recipe is really good although I do get a bit lost with how many times you turn the heat up and down. I was worried I would over steep it (which often happens whenever I try to make chai) but I didn’t! I also added a couple extra cardamon pods for good measure. Thank you for sharing! <3

    1. EatsByRamya says:

      Glad it turned out yummy – I hope your sister enjoyed it as well! For the heat I usually just bring the whole thing (with milk and everything) to a boil till it rises, then stir it and then bring to a second boil, then turn off!

  16. This is my go-to chai recipe. It’s the first time my chai has turned out tasting authentic. Thanks!

  17. Briefly described. Thank you❤

  18. This chai is perfect and it makes a big mug. I always struggled with how much tea to add and how long to steep so this was helpful as even without sugar it doesn’t taste bitter.

  19. This was perfect. I always struggled with how much tea to add and how long to steep it for but directions were clear. Even without sugar it doesn’t taste bitter. Thank you!

  20. Best chai recipe! Thank you!

  21. This was delicious! I made it too concentrated but it was great with some oat milk and sugar on top!

  22. This was delicious, heartwarming, and so simple! Thank you.

  23. This makes a fairly strong chai- no espresso added- and I’m still buzzing 6hrs later!! I was skeptical because of how short the ingredient list was, the double boil confused me slightly, and it takes 4 Lipton black tea bags to make a single tablespoon of loose leaf tea (so you’ll need 6 bags for the full 1.5 tbls).
    However, with a unhealthy ammount of sugar, a drizzle of honey, and a dash of cinnamon it tastes like an upgraded $8 SB Chai! It’s not watered down, lacking spice, or overly sweet, it’s genuinely good enough to drink EVERY day! Next time I’ll try black peppercorns and tumeric too (I love the peppery punch). I’m confident that this recipe will be in my house for years to come! Thank you so much for sharing!! Xoxo

    1. eatsbyramya Author says:

      I’m glad you liked it!! I’m gonna be posted a chai concentrate recipe on my instagram (@eatsbyramya) next week and that’ll be a lot more similar to the Starbucks stuff if you wanna try it 🙂