Before we begin to list down the differences between Chai Latte and Chai Tea, let us first understand what “chai” really means. In simple terms, chai specifically refers to a spiced tea beverage that originated in India.
It is made by brewing black tea leaves with a combination of spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and black pepper.
Traditional chai is often brewed with milk and sweetened with sugar. It is a common practice to boil the tea leaves and spices together in water and milk, allowing the flavors to infuse fully. Apart from being a popular beverage, chai also has cultural significance in many South Asian countries including India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh among others, where it is associated with hospitality, social gatherings, and daily rituals.
A chai latte is a popular and modern beverage that combines the flavors of traditional spiced chai with the creamy texture of a latte. It typically consists of spiced tea concentrate mixed with steamed milk or a milk substitute, resulting in a flavorful and comforting drink. Chai lattes are often served in coffee shops and cafes, and they have gained popularity worldwide due to their unique combination of spicy, warming flavors and the comforting texture of frothy milk.
On the other hand, chai tea is tea infused with a blend of aromatic spices like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and black pepper. Chai tea has its roots in Indian culture and is enjoyed in many parts of the world. The term “chai" itself means "tea" in many languages, including Hindi. So, saying "chai tea" is somewhat redundant since it translates to "tea tea". Instead, it is more accurate to simply use the term "chai" to refer to the spiced tea beverage.
Chai Latte vs. Chai Tea
Chai latte and chai tea are quite similar in terms of taste and appearance. However, there are quite a few differences between the two.
Chai latte contains more milk so it ends up brewing a light brown color. Chai latte looks like a lighter shade of brown, compared to chai tea. The color of chai tea is usually a darker shade of brown, depending on how much milk you have used.
A chai latte combines the spiced and aromatic flavors of traditional chai with the creamy and smooth texture of steamed milk or a milk substitute. A chai latte is the perfect combination of sweet and spicy. The trick is to mix equal parts of tea and milk together, which creates a rich and creamy texture. A chai latte has a rather thick consistency since it is almost 50% milk.
In contrast, traditional chai tea is known for its bold flavor. This tea is basically milk tea which is infused with a strong blend of spices. The spices are the defining feature of this hot beverage. When you drink traditional chai tea, you can expect the spices to be bold, aromatic, and robust, with flavors such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and black pepper being prominently noticeable.
Both chai latte and traditional chai tea have a strong, spicy aroma. The aroma of a chai latte is a delightful blend of warm, aromatic spices with a comforting, creamy undertone. It is characterized by the rich, inviting scent of spices like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and black pepper. These spices contribute to a spicy and fragrant top note that is often the first thing you notice when you take a sip of your chai latte. Moreover, the milk adds a soothing and comforting dimension to the overall scent.
On the other hand, the scent of traditional chai tea is quite bold and powerful. Each of the spices in traditional chai tea contributes to a rich and nuanced aroma that is robust and potent. For instance, the cardamom offers a sweet and citrusy undertone, while the cinnamon provides a warm, woodsy, vanilla-like aroma. The cloves add a rich, sweet, and slightly woodsy aroma while the ginger adds a rather earthy and spicy aroma.
Traditional chai tea has an aroma that is strongly spicy, fragrant, and evocative. It has a sensory journey that can carry you to the heart of South Asian tradition.
The core ingredients for making chai latte and traditional chai tea are similar. Both chai latte and traditional chai tea use tea leaves as a base. Typically, black tea leaves are used, although some variations may use green or other types of tea leaves.
The main component of a chai latte and a traditional chai tea is the blend of spices. The commonly used spices in both these beverages include cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and black pepper. These spices are simmered along with the black tea leaves to create a flavorful and aromatic tea.
In chai lattes, you might find half-and-half, which is a mixture of equal parts milk and cream. It results in a richer and creamier texture than regular milk. On the other hand, a traditional chai tea is often made with whole milk, which adds a creamy richness to the tea. You can use other types of dairy milk, including 2%, 1%, or even skim milk. A chai latte typically has a higher ratio of milk to tea, creating a creamier and sweeter taste compared to traditional chai tea.
Many people prefer non-dairy milk options for chai latte and chai tea. Some popular non-dairy milk choices include almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, oat milk, and rice milk. These options are suitable for vegans or individuals with lactose intolerance.
Chai latte is often sweetened with sugar, honey, or flavored syrups whereas traditional chai tea may or may not include sweeteners.
Chai lattes often have a sweet and creamy aftertaste, especially if they are made with milk or non-dairy alternatives and sweetened with sugar or syrup. The sweetness can linger on the palate after each sip.
On the contrary, traditional chai tea tends to have a more pronounced and robust spice aftertaste. The combination of spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and black pepper can leave a lingering warmth and complexity on the palate
Both chai latte and chai tea contain caffeine because they are both made with a base of black tea. A typical 8-ounce (240 ml) cup of chai latte or traditional chai tea, which is made from a chai concentrate or chai tea bags, may contain approximately 30-50 milligrams of caffeine.
Since both beverages are caffeinated, it might be best to avoid having chai latte or chai tea at night. You can have these beverages with your breakfast in the morning or as an afternoon or evening beverage. The soothing spices can be relaxing and aid digestion.
Some people may even add a few tablespoons of coffee to make their chai latte or chai tea more caffeinated.
A chai latte typically uses chai concentrate or chai tea bags. Chai concentrate is made by brewing black tea with a blend of spices and herbs. The first step is to boil the water and then mix the water with the chai concentrate. If you’re using chai tea bags, pour the hot water over the tea bags and steep for around 3-5 minutes.
A chai latte has a thick layer of frothy milk foam. You can make frothy milk foam in three ways. One is to pour the milk into a mason jar, secure the lid tightly, and shake for 30 seconds or more. Then, remove the lid and put the jar of milk in the microwave for another minute. This will warm the milk and stabilize the foam. Another way to make frothy milk foam is to use a French coffee press. You may also use a frothing wand to achieve the foamy texture.
Once your milk is frothed, add it to the tea. You can also use steamed milk for making this recipe. For a standard chai latte, a 1:1 ratio of milk to chai concentrate or tea works well.
A traditional chai tea does not use chai concentrate. Instead, it uses black tea leaves or tea bags. The first step is to boil water in a pot. When the water starts boiling, add the spices to the pot. You can use whole spices or ground spices. Some people grind the spices together to create a more uniform blend. For 2-3 servings, you should add around 2-4 cinnamon sticks, 4-6 cardamom pods, a few slices of fresh ginger, 4-6 cloves, and a pinch of black pepper. At this stage, you should also throw the tea bags in the pot.
Let the tea and spices simmer for about 5-10 minutes on medium to low heat. This will allow the tea and spices to infuse with the water. Then, add milk and sugar and simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Once the chai tea is ready, pour it into cups through a strainer and discard the tea bags and spices.
Can you have chai tea without milk?
You can definitely have chai tea without milk. The spices, infused in the water, create a delicious version of black tea. This version is more commonly known as “vegan masala chai”, which is basically black tea flavored with a blend of spices such as ginger, cardamom, cloves & peppercorn.
Is chai latte thicker than chai tea?
Yes, chai latte has a much thicker consistency than chai tea. This is because more than half of the chai latte is frothy milk foam.
How do I make tea more dense?
You can try adding milk or cream to the tea for a more thick, dense consistency. You can also try adding a raw egg to the tea. What you have to do is just prepare your chai latte or chai tea as per your recipe and then add the beaten egg mixture to the tea and stir continuously for 20-30 seconds.
The egg is used to give the tea a thicker or denser texture. If you’re adding eggs to the tea, you can skip out on the milk.
Can chai latte and chai tea be served cold?
Most people prefer their chai tea to be hot. However, you may serve it cold by adding ice. On the contrary, iced chai latte is a popular beverage all across the world.
Chai tea has a rich history in India and Southeastern countries, where it has been enjoyed for generations. Nowadays, chai tea is also quite common in Western countries.
Chai Latte, on the other hand, is a delightful western twist on traditional chai tea. This creamy and aromatic beverage has gained immense popularity in coffee shops and cafes across western nations, including the USA, UK, and Australia, among others.