Enjoy a homemade Starbucks dupe of the famous Chai Tea Latte with just 2 ingredients and 5 minutes of your time! Learn to make your own Chai Concentrate and you'll have a batch of this latte ready at a whim to last the whole week at a fraction of the cost.
Let me start this post by saying yes!! I vehemently disagree with the fact that this drink is named "Chai Tea" and hate when people say it. I am fully aware that this is redundant, and we will talk about it in a later section regarding what a Chai Tea Latte really is.
If you looked at your monthly expenses and went "uff... I'm spending a lot of money at coffee shops" then yeah, I feel you on that one. Realizing I was spending $12-15/day, or close to $200/month, on buying coffee made me change my habits reaaal quick. That's a whole ticket to Disney!!
Truly nothing is more comforting than an Iced Chai Latte during the summer or a hot version in the fall and winter. Here's a quick guide to a homemade Chai Latte, iced or hot!
You can make a fresh batch of Chai Concentrate to last you the full week in about 20 minutes and froth the milk for a latte at a fraction of the cost!
Why this Recipe?
A homemade Chai Latte has many benefits! Here are some of my favorites worth mentioning:
- It's cheaper. A Starbucks Grande Chai Tea Latte would cost me $6.15 in New York City. The cost adds up significantly if you're buying one a day. If you make the make the chai concentrate at home, you can make a Chai Latte at home for ~$1 depending on the price of ingredients in your area.
- If you have the chai concentrate prepped or purchased it pre-made, all you need to do is steam or froth the milk and you have your morning and afternoon pick-me-up ready within 5 minutes.
- You can control the sugar added and milk to meet dietary restrictions.
What is a Chai Latte?
Let's start with the fact that chai means "tea" in Hindi, so chai tea translates to "tea tea". Yikes.
The Chai Tea Latte was introduced at Starbucks in the United States by Teavana's Oprah Chai Tea at Starbucks in 2014 as a way of "elevating the tea experience," drawing inspiration from Masala Chai.
The outcome was a cinnamon heavy, watered down attempt at masala chai that was palatable to Americans but detested by desis. And thanks to Starbucks, people also began saying "chai tea". It's redundant and cringe-worthy.
To be fair, a Chai Tea Latte has spun itself into its own drink in the U.S. While it began as an attempt of introducing Masala Chai to Americans, I now think of it as a rendition of the original. Now, Chai Tea or a Chai Latte typically refers to a drink with frothy steamed milk and a black tea concentrate simmered with sharp spices like ginger and cinnamon.
Masala Chai vs. a Chai Latte
Masala Chai requires a bit of technique when simmering the spices, evaporating the milk, and aerating the chai. This results in a complex, well balanced, rich, and creamy flavor and texture.
When a coffee shop has Chai or a Chai Latte on their menu, it's usually referring to a drink made with a chai concentrate and steamed milk.
Ingredients - Notes and Substitutions
Starbucks uses the following ingredients to make their Chai Tea Latte:
Milk, Water, Chai Tea Concentrate [an infusion of (water, black tea, cardamom, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, natural flavors, star anise), sugar, honey, ginger juice, natural flavors, vanilla, citric acid].
For our homemade Chai Latte, we only need two ingredients!
For the Chai Concentrate, you can easily make it at home with my homemade Chai Concentrate recipe which will be a 1:1 of concentrate to milk. Some benefits to making it at home are:
- control over flavor
- control the amount of sugar (easier for "skinny" or "sugar free" chai lattes)
- make large batches
- it's cheaper
- no preservatives
Or you can purchase a pre-made concentrate like from Tazo, which is what Starbucks uses. One thing to pay attention to is the ratio of concentrate to milk that is specified on the bottled concentrate. Most pre-made chai concentrates are a 1:1 of chai to milk, but it's worth checking the instructions.
I will note that the pre-made concentrates are far more expensive that making it at home. At the same time, it's also cheaper than buying a Chai Latte at a coffee shop everyday!
In terms of milk, Starbucks uses 2% milk that is steamed hot to create milk foam. You can use any milk you want, including plant-based milks. For plant-based milks, you'll want to consider purchasing the "barista edition" so that it foams as you'd expect it to.
How to make Chai Concentrate
If you're not buying a pre-bottled chai concentrate, here's a brief walkthrough on how to make your own chai concentrate. I have a much more detailed homemade Chai Concentrate recipe that helps you customize it and make a small or large batch!
Crush the spices. Use a mortar and pestle to lightly crush the spices to release their oils. Use the flat edge of a knife to smash them instead of a mortar and pestle. You can also use Chai Masala instead of whole spices.
Dry roast the spices and extract flavor. To really bloom the spices, add them to the pot on low to medium heat and dry roast them for about a minute until they're fragrant.
Continuously mix them around so they don't burn. Then, add the water and bring it a rolling boil to allow the spices to infuse with the water.
If you're using Chai Masala, skip the dry roast and add the spices directly into the boiling water.
Steep the tea. Add black tea leaves or tea bags into the spice-infused water and boil it for about 5 minutes, giving it a stir every once in a while.
Then, remove the pot from heat and let the tea and spices steep for a minimum of 15 minutes. Add the sugar and stir until it's dissolved.
Pro Tip: You can substitute the sugar for an artificial sweetener, honey, or maple syrup.
Bottle the concentrate. Sanitize the bottle and its lid in boiling water before use. Once the chai concentrate has cooled, use a fine mesh sieve to transfer it to the bottle. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
How to make a Chai Latte at Home
With the chai concentrate either prepared or purchased, the only thing to do here is to steam or froth the milk.
If you're making an Iced Chai Latte, use the cold foam setting on the Aeroccino or an electric frother until the chilled milk is frothy and foamy.
If it's a hot Chai Latte, warm up the milk in a saucepan on the stove or in the microwave to 170°F. Use an electric frother or immersion blender until the milk is frothy and foamy. Alternatively, use the hot setting on the Aeroccino.
Pour the chai concentrate into a tall glass of choice. If it's an Iced Chai Latte, add some ice as well.
Then, pour the milk into the glass. Spoon the foam over the concentrate. Sprinkle a bit of ground cinnamon over the foam and you're ready to enjoy!
More Starbucks Dupes to try
Chai Latte (Starbucks Dupe)
- For an Iced Chai Latte -Add the chai concentrate into the glass with ice. Add the milk into a separate glass and use an electric frother or Aeroccino on the cold foam setting until frothy. Pour the foamy milk over the chai concentrate and enjoy.
- For a warm Chai Latte -Add the chai concentrate into the glass. Add hot milk into a separate glass and use an electric frother or Aeroccino on the hot foam setting until frothy. Pour the foamy milk over the chai concentrate and enjoy.