Home » Food Info » what does chai taste like?

what does chai taste like?

What does chai taste like? Chai is a spiced tea that originates from India. It is made with a combination of black tea, milk, and spices such as cardamom, cloves, and ginger. Chai has a distinct flavor that is both sweet and spicy. Many people enjoy drinking chai because it is a warm and comforting beverage.

two cups filled with chai drink

Chai Origins

Chai comes from the Chinese word “cha,” which means tea or tea plant. In India, instead of saying “tea,” they say chai. China is the largest tea producer globally, and India is second. 

Many people take chai as a substitute for hot chocolate, which is why it is not surprising that tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world. So, what does chai taste like? 

What Is In Chai?

Chai is a spiced tea popular in India, Pakistan, and other South Asian countries. It is made by boiling black tea with a mixture of spices and milk. In India, chai is sometimes referred to as masala chai, which means “spiced tea.”

Most chai recipes are flexible, and you can add any ingredient you like. The most common spices used are cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Chai can also be flavored with vanilla or almond extract.

two cups filled with brown chai drink and spices

What Does Chai Taste Like?

In general, chai tastes sweet and creamy. It is a warm drink that has an earthy flavor. That being said, the flavor of your chai will depend on the creamer or milk and the aromatic flavors brought by the spices you’ll add to your chai mix.

Adding extra sugar to chai is a common practice. However, most chai lovers prefer honey for a sweeter taste. The different ingredients make the flavor different and unique for every person.

When made correctly, chai tea should have a balance of sweet, spicy, and milky flavors.

The tea leaves play a vital role in the overall chai taste through the brewing process. The chai spices you add to your chai affect the taste-making process:

  • Nutmeg, vanilla, or cinnamon will result in a sweet chai.
  • Black peppercorns or ginger will give you a spicy chai. 
  • Saffron will leave you with a bitter chai. 
  • Cumin leaves or fennel create a savory chai. 

Ingredients To Make Chai

Chai comes in different variations, which means there are other ingredients you can add to your chai. If you want to know whether you will like or dislike chai, it is best to start with the ingredients of the traditional chai tea mix:

  • Tea – Black tea is most commonly used to make chai, but green tea will also work.
  • Milk – Milk decreases the bitter taste of tea, so it is another essential ingredient in chai. You can use any kind, whether it be regular milk or dairy-free milk.
  • Sweetener – The sweetener also decreases the bitterness of tea by adding a sweet flavor. Among the most popular ones are sugar, honey, and maple syrup.
  • Spices – The chai spices you add to your tea make it a unique warm drink with a taste you cannot find in other beverages. Traditional chai will include cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. 

How To Make Chai Latte

There are as many methods to make chai as there are many variations. Here is one of the simplest and easiest ways to make it. 

You will need: 

  • 1 tablespoon of black tea leaves
  • 1 cup of milk (whole milk or soy milk)
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar or honey
  • Spices of your choice, approx. 1/4 teaspoon each: cinnamon, ginger, cloves, or other herbs and spices. 


  • Fill a saucepan with water, add milk, and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat once the milk and water mixture reaches boiling point. 
  • Add the tea leaves and allow them to set. Stir the mix when necessary. 
  • Add as many spices as you want based on your preference and taste.
  • Add sugar or honey and check the sweetness of your chai. You can add more as needed. 
  • Strain the mixture into a mug or cup. Enjoy!

Chai Brewing Tips

Making chai is almost effortless. Here are some brewing tips you can use when preparing chai tea to make sure it will taste even better: 

  • Make sure to use filtered water when brewing tea. 
  • Add the tea leaves depending on how strong you want your chai.
  • Do not add too many leaves because it will make your chai taste bitter.
  • Too many leaves may also be dangerous to your health due to the excessive caffeine they contain. 
  • It is essential to always taste your chai blend before adding any sweeteners, herbs, and other warming spices.

What Does Chai Tea Latte Taste Like?

Most tea enthusiasts use chai tea and chai tea latte interchangeably. However, these two drinks have different tastes because they are prepared differently. 

Chai tea refers to the traditional chai, while chai tea latte is a modernized version widely available in cafés across the world.

  • One big difference between a chai tea latte and chai tea is that a chai latte taste is more on the milky side than chai tea because it uses significantly more milk than tea.
  • On the other hand, the masala chai taste is a lot spicier because it has less milk and more of the traditional spices.
  • Lastly, chai is always served hot, whereas chai tea latte can be served hot or cold.

While it is common for coffee lovers to correlate “latte” with coffee-based beverages, chai latte is a tea-based drink. 

Chai tea lattes and traditional chai tea have grown in popularity in most coffee shops in the US over the past decades because they have less caffeine content than coffee.

Does Chai Have Caffeine?

Yes. Chai contains caffeine because it is made with black tea. Even if your chai uses green tea, it will still contain caffeine. The caffeine content of your drink varies depending on brewing time, brewing method, or serving size.

Coffee usually has twice as much caffeine content as tea. If you are considering reducing your caffeine intake, you can opt for chai tea instead of coffee. 

Dirty Chai vs. Chai Latte

The most significant difference between the two is that a dirty chai latte contains coffee, while a chai latte does not. A dirty chai latte is a chai latte with one or two espresso shots.

Dirty chai is stronger than chai latte because it contains more caffeine, chai latte only has tea, creamer, and sugar, so it has less caffeine.

If you do not like the bitterness of coffee but do love its taste, you can choose to take a dirty chai latte instead.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does chai contain caffeine? 

Yes, chai tea contains caffeine because it has tea. However, the amount of caffeine varies depending on the type of tea. The caffeine content of chai is significantly lower than that of coffee.

Is chai bitter or sweet? 

Chai tea can be bitter or sweet or both bitter and sweet, depending on your preference. If you use boiled black tea to make it, it will have a more bitter taste than if you used green tea.

On the other hand, it can be as sweet as you want it to be, depending on the amount of sugar and cinnamon (or other spices) you add to your drink.

What does chai tea taste like? 

Chai tea is a warm, creamy beverage with an earthy flavor. Chai tea is a good entry point for non-tea drinkers because it contains spices that allow it to have a unique taste that is milder than the typical taste of pure tea. 

Final Thoughts

So, what does chai taste like? It is a versatile tea with a sweet and spicy taste, depending on what you put in it. You can reinvent your homemade chai tea recipe by trying different herbs and spices added to your tea, sugar, and milk. 

Next time you crave a hot drink, check out the nearest coffee shop or try making masala chai tea with your own twists at home.

Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

Get new recipes and tips via email
when you subscribe!

Leave a Reply

Quick Search