Step aside Starbucks, there’s a new iced chai “latte” in town. She’s got deeper flavor, creamier, her name is right, and she’s actually chai. And if you’re not a fan of iced drinks, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with an iced chai latte!
My thoughts on chai “tea lattes”
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 and sip on it all day while working. So one day, I decided to make an iced chai 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 unfortunately decided to get a iced chai latte & I’m sorry, but that’s not chai. I have nothing against people who like it, I think it’s good – it’s just not chai. So, today we are going to learn how to make an authentic iced chai latte.
What do you need to make authentic chai?
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 :
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
How to make chai at home
Like I said before, this is how my family makes a very simple, easy to source chai.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- Raise the heat to high to allow it to come to a 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)
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. Parle-G, a sweet dunk-able cookie, is amazing with chai. So is Biscoff, but it’s pretty sweet so it can take away from the chai. Mini sandwiches made with vegetables like cucumbers and onions and flavored with chaat masala are also heavenly when paired with some steaming hot chai! Samosa or pakora are also commonly paired with chai, and believe me when I tell you IT TASTES AMAZING! One of my all time favorites is warm chai with some healthy Bhel Puri chaat.
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 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!Print
Swap out your Starbucks chai tea latte for a more authentic recipe! Whether you’re in the mood for a hot cup of chai or iced chai latte, this will hit the spot.
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup milk (or more)
- 1.5 tbsp black tea leaves
- 1–3 cardamom pods (crushed) or 1 tsp ground cardamom powder
- 1 inch knob of ginger, sliced
- 2 tsp sugar, or to taste
- 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!
Didn’t turn out how you expected? Scroll up and check out the section labelled “Troubleshooting Your Chai”
- Cook Time: 15