Curl up with a blanket and this easy homemade chai tea latte - it's just the thing to warm you up on brisk fall mornings and chilly winter evenings. This drink is sweet, creamy, and full of cozy spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. It's also made completely from scratch! For an extra boost of caffeine, just add coffee to make it a dirty chai.
- What is a chai latte?
- How to make a chai latte from scratch
- What type of milk to use
- What type of sweetener to use
- Using tea bags vs loose leaf tea
- Using whole spices vs ground spices
- What to do if you don't own a milk frother
- Make a decaf chai latte
- Make a dirty chai
- Recipe tips and common questions
- More homemade beverages
- Have you made this recipe?
- Recipe Card
- 💬 Comments and Reviews
In the world of cozy beverages, does it get any cozier than a chai latte? A steaming cup of tea, creamy frothed milk, and a mix of warm spices - there is truly no cozier combination. I've had my fair share of good chai at coffee shops, but there's nothing more I want to do on a cold day than hunker down at home.
The best of both worlds? A comfy couch, a warm blanket, and this DIY chai latte recipe. Throw in a spiced muffin or a thick slice of homemade pumpkin bread, and I can guarantee you won't be missing Starbucks anytime soon.
What is a chai latte?
The basic components of a chai latte are simple: black tea, steamed milk, and a mixture of spices. Most recipes call for cinnamon, ginger, cloves, black peppercorn, cardamom, and star anise - I like to add vanilla to mine as well. Combined with your sweetener of choice, it makes a drink that's inherently comforting: perfectly sweet and creamy, with the natural flavor of black tea amplified by fragrant warm spices.
How to make a chai latte from scratch
The key to a flavorful chai latte begins with infusing a mixture of chai spices into hot water on the stovetop. In doing so, you create a richly spiced chai "concentrate" that you can use to make tea. (I call it a concentrate for lack of a better word, but there's no need to water it down.)
When the concentrate is heated to near-boiling (about 205ºF-210ºF) it's then combined with black tea. Steep the tea and top it with with sweetened, frothed milk, and you have a homemade chai latte!
What type of milk to use
As with all of my coffee and latté recipes, I prefer (and highly recommend) using whole milk in this chai recipe. It's creamy and naturally sweet, and its neutral flavor blends well with both coffee and tea. While not as creamy, 2% milk will also work! If you choose to use a dairy-free milk alternative, I'd suggest using whatever your go-to is for lattes.
What type of sweetener to use
Honey, brown sugar, or maple syrup are all great options for sweetening a chai latte. Their warm undertones compliment the spice in the drink, and contribute to the overall flavor. Granulated sugar or other sweeteners will also work in a pinch.
Using tea bags vs loose leaf tea
Loose leaf tea is generally superior to tea bags, but I typically make this recipe with tea bags for simplicity's sake. Do your research when purchasing - even tea bags can be high quality if sourced well.
If you do decide to use loose leaf tea, I'd suggest starting with about 2 teaspoons of tea per latte, and adjusting as needed to suit your personal taste.
Using whole spices vs ground spices
Many chai latte recipes call for at least some ground spices, presumably because they're more common and don't have to be infused like whole spices. That being said, I highly recommend using whole spices for this recipe. There's two main reasons for this:
- Whole spices stay fresh longer and have a stronger flavor. Since a chai latte gets its signature flavor from various spices, I think it makes the most sense to use spices that are as fresh and potent as possible.
- Ground spices tend to leave a gritty texture in drinks. I find that when ground spices are used in beverages (like many pumpkin spice lattes), they often give the drink an unpleasant mouthfeel. Whole spices can easily be strained out of any liquid before drinking, for a smoother finished product. This is also why I use whole spices in my pumpkin cream cold brew.
What to do if you don't own a milk frother
In order to give this latte a thick, creamy layer of foam on top, I use a milk frother. It may seem like an unnecessary kitchen appliance to own, but if you make lattes often, I promise it will change your life.
That being said, if you don't own one and don't plan on buying one, a good alternative is to use a mason jar. Pour the milk into a large jar, shake it vigorously, and then microwave for 30-60 seconds. The foam won't be quite as fine and velvety as what you get with a frother, but still SO much better than regular steamed milk.
Make a decaf chai latte
Chai lattes are typically caffeinated, but you can always use decaffeinated black tea instead. I'd suggest looking for a tea that's decaffeinated using the Swiss water or CO2 method, as these are non-toxic, chemical free methods for removing caffeine from tea or coffee. Allegro is my go-to brand for decaf black tea.
Make a dirty chai
To make this a dirty chai latte, just add 4 ounces of strongly-brewed coffee or 2 shots of espresso. When adding coffee I also recommend using 1 ½ tablespoons of your sweetener of choice. (This recipe calls for a minimum of 1 tablespoon, and up to 1 ½.)
Recipe tips and common questions
Yes. Although I prefer using whole milk, any dairy-free or vegan milk alternative can be substituted in this recipe. I'd recommend using one with a neutral flavor and no sugar added (since this latte is already sweetened). Oat milk would be a great choice!
For a vegan latté, you'll also want to use maple syrup or brown sugar as a sweetener rather than honey.
Absolutely! Adding collagen peptides to this latte is any easy way to get a little extra protein in your diet, and it doesn't affect the taste at all. I always use Vital Proteins, and recommend adding 1 scoop per latte.
This recipe will make enough chai concentrate for two lattes, but you can easily scale it to make extra. I like to make a triple batch that will last for a week's worth of lattes! There are buttons included in the recipe card to automatically scale the ingredient measurements if you decide to do this.
If you're not using the chai concentrate immediately - or if you make a bigger batch - store it in a mason jar in the refrigerator until ready to use. It should last for at least a couple of weeks.
More homemade beverages
Starbucks can step aside - here are a few other DIY coffee shop beverages you'll love!
Easy Homemade Chai Latte
Curl up with a blanket and this easy-to-make chai tea latte - it's just the thing to warm you up on brisk fall mornings and chilly winter evenings. This drink is sweet, creamy, and full of cozy spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. For an extra boost of caffeine, just add coffee to make it a dirty chai!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Steep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hr 15 minutes
- Yield: 2 lattes 1x
- Category: beverages
- Method: stovetop
- Cuisine: Indian
(yields 14-16 ounces)
- 2 cups (16 ounces) water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 star anise, chopped
- 8-10 cardamom pods, split
- 4 whole cloves
- ½" slice ginger root
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- ¼ teaspoon black peppercorn
- 14-16 ounces chai concentrate (from above)
- 4 good-quality black tea bags
- 1 cup milk (preferably whole milk)
- 2-3 tablespoons honey or sweetener of choice, to taste
- In a medium saucepan, combine all of the ingredients for the chai concentrate. Bring to a boil on the stove and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 1 hour. Strain the spices out of the water before using. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate if not using immediately.
To make Chai Lattes:
- Transfer the strained chai concentrate back into a medium saucepan. Bring to a near-boil on the stove (205°F-210°F on an instant-read thermometer). Meanwhile, prep two mugs with two bags of black tea each.
- Pour the hot concentrate over the tea bags in each mug, dividing evenly between each. Let steep for 5-6 minutes. Press excess water out of tea bags before removing.
- While tea is steeping, combine milk and honey and froth using a milk frother or other method of choice (see post above for more info.). Divide frothed milk evenly between the two mugs of tea and serve immediately.
- Use decaffeinated black tea for decaf chai lattes.
- To use loose leaf tea instead of tea bags, try starting with 2 teaspoons of tea leaves per latte, and adjust to taste.
- Unsweetened dairy-free or vegan milk can be used if desired. I'd recommend oat milk.
- Honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar can be used to sweeten this chai latte. Use one of the latter two options for a vegan latte.
- Optionally, add a scoop of collagen peptides to each latte for added protein.
Storing chai concentrate:
- Concentrate can be stored in a lidded mason jar in the refrigerator until ready to use. It should last for at least a couple of weeks.
Other recipe notes:
- After the concentrate has boiled it will have decreased in volume slightly. Use the full amount for 2 lattes, or 7-8 ounces per latte.
- To "froth" milk without a milk frother, pour the milk into a large jar, shake it vigorously, and then microwave for 30-60 seconds.
Keywords: chai latte, dirty chai latte, black tea beverages, homemade chai latte, winter beverages, chai tea latte