Although many people use the phrase “chai tea” to describe a popular blend of hot tea and spices, the term is actually somewhat redundant. The word “chai” translates literally to mean “tea” in Hindi, similar to the Cantonese word “cha,” which means the same thing. The chai latte (commonly, though incorrectly, referred to as a “chai tea latte”) is a cold-weather favorite for many, evoking a sense of coziness with each sip of spiced tea and warm, frothed milk. No matter what you call it, this beloved café beverage can be made at home with proper instructions and a bit of practice.
WHAT IS CHAI?
When a barista prepares a chai latte, they’re likely using Masala chai as the primary ingredient. This tea blend hails from India and is made with autumnal spices like nutmeg, cardamom and ginger. These flavors intertwine and remind us of crisp fall leaves and scarf weather, perfect for enjoying once September’s equinox arrives and we notice daylight growing shorter. Likewise, Tea Forté’s Bombay Chai is blended with black tea from the Nilgiri region of South India near Assam and Darjeeling, the two most important regions for black tea production in the country. The blend is a delicately-composed mélange of tea leaves, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, star anise, and black pepper. Made correctly with tea, water, milk, and a touch of honey, the process of preparing a chai latte is really rather simple.
Another popular favorite for a chai latte is our seasonally available Pumpkin Spice, a blend of black tea and warming pumpkin spice spices. Perfect for a cool autumn day, pick up some Pumpkin spice in the fall season.
Looking for a caffeine-free chai? Our Chakra Collection includes 2 herbal blends, Ginger Guru Chai, and Turmeric Tantra Chai. Another popular favorite is our rooibos-based Winter Chai. Not just for the winter season, this herbal chai packs plenty of flavor with herbs and spices including cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla, lemongrass and ginger.
HOW TO MAKE A CHAI LATTE
Begin with a fine quality spiced chai and prepare it as you normally would, except reduce the amount of water to one-quarter cup. The rest of the liquid will be replaced with warm milk. See below for instructions to make a 8oz latte:
For black and herbal teas, heat 2oz of water to 208 degrees. Then add 1 tsp of loose leaf tea into an infuser basket, or use 1 pyramid infuser, and place in your cup. Pour the hot water over the tea leaves and steep 3-5 minutes.The longer the steep, the bolder the flavor. Since you’ll be adding milk, consider letting it steep for the full five minutes for a robust latte, full of character. Remove the tea infuser (or infuser basket) and pour 6oz of warm milk into your cup. Add honey, amber tea sugar, or your favorite sweetener to taste. Top with foamed milk and a dash of cinnamon and enjoy!
HEALTH BENEFITS OF CHAI
Like its black tea counterparts, spiced chai blends boast a powerful array of antioxidants in every cup. Medical research continues to deepen its exploration into tea’s benefits, while early signs indicate that tea may offer anticarcinogenic properties, as well as the ability to promote cardiovascular health and fight inflammation and even slow some signs of aging. Moderation is key, and many researchers agree that anywhere from one to three cups per day (with limited sweeteners and other additions) may be a wise choice for health-conscious tea lovers. So, once you’ve perfected the art of the homemade chai latte, raise a warm, spiced cup to your health and enjoy.