You love the sweet spiciness of it. You crave the milky smoothness. But you can’t help but wonder just how much caffeine is in those chai lattes that you can’t get enough of.
In this article, I’ll break down the basics for you so that you know what chai is, what makes it different from a chai latte, and where a Dirty Chai Latte comes into the picture.
And, of course, we’ll discuss how much caffeine you’ll find in each one.
Let’s start our chai time.
What Is Chai?
Chai is sweet, milky, spicy, and hot. Chai tea is a specialty drink that popped onto the hot-drinks scene in the United States in the late 1990s when Starbucks began to add it to their menu.
Chai is the diva of specialty drinks because of its hot presence. And we’re talking spices here, with cinnamon and cardamom aroma and flavor popping out.
Although the specific spices used in each recipe can change, what never changes about chai is that it makes its presence known. The tantalizing spicy aromas are unmistakable, and the flavor is no doubt different from any other hot beverage you’ve had.
Even the name makes you feel like you’re imbibing in an exotic experience from halfway around the world. And you are. It originated in India.
Massala Chai Tea
In the United States, this specialty beverage was created to impress. In India, chai is simply the common way to drink black tea. So you’ll find hot chai everywhere, on every street corner, and in every shop.
And while people in the United States often call the drink chai tea, it’s enough to make someone in the know chuckle.
Because “chai” simply means tea (in Hindi). So, if people say they want to drink a chai tea, they’re essentially saying they want a tea tea.
In India, the beverage is often called masala chai or spicy tea. A very appropriate name.
Back when India was a British colony, the cultivation of black tea leaves thrived. So it’s not surprising that the beverage caught on as a common drink. Unlike the British, though, Indian tea drinkers wanted their beverage to have more of a kick.
They wanted it spicey. So to the tea leaves they added ingredients like ginger, cloves, cardamom, anise, black pepper, or cinnamon.
In fact, families throughout India have their own special recipes. Also, they always prepare their chai in milk.
Although chai can be made with green tea leaves, it’s common to use Assam leaves, a black tea with a strong flavor. And in some cafés that have chai on the menu, they simply use a chai mix or concentrates.
But whatever the recipe, you can always expect it to have the creaminess of whole milk, the almost syrupy sweetness of white or unrefined cane sugar, and the kick of spices.
And if you’re looking for a hot and comforting beverage with more health benefits, a cup of chai might give you the added health benefits of less caffeine.
Let’s talk about how much caffeine you can expect.
Caffeine Content In Chai
With those strong tastes, you may wonder if Chai is highly caffeinated. A cup of chai certainly seems to give you a boost before a long night of study or a lengthy road trip. And those strong tastes and the thick milky texture may make you wonder if chai is a coffee-based beverage.
Does chai have a lot of caffeine?
Is chai coffee-based?
Chai has just 26-50 mg of caffeine in an 8-ounce size cup.
Compare that with the amount of caffeine in a similar serving of coffee (which is around 100-125 mg), and you see you’d have to drink a lot of chai to get the same dose of caffeine.
Why the difference? As we mentioned, Chai is made from black tea leaves, which are generally lower in caffeine than coffee.
What Is A Chai Latte?
Now let’s talk about chai lattes. In the United States, a chai latte is an option on many café menus. So how’s it different than a regular chai?
Chai tea latte is simply chai (remember, that means tea) that has been made with steamed milk. That’s why it’s called a latte (which means milk in Italian). Just as a caffé latte is a coffee with steamed milk, a chai latte is a chai with steamed milk.
Chai lattes create a wonderful mix of cultures as it combines the Indian word for tea, the Italian word for milk, and whips it all into a beverage that only Americans order.
What about the amount of caffeine in a chai latte?
Chai Latte Caffeine
How much caffeine it has does depend on how the beverage is made. For example, it can be made with tea leaves and spices, but in the United States, it’s often made from concentrates.
Proper chai lattes start with chai – black tea with spices and sweetener – and adds the dimension of the frothy steamed milk that you would normally add to a caffe latte.
Since it is largely black tea, a chai latte will generally have 70 mg of caffeine. Like chai, a chai latte has much less caffeine when compared with coffee drinks and fewer side effects.
What Is A Dirty Chai Latte?
We’ve already discussed that the caffeine in Chai is moderate, nothing to make your heart skip a beat.
But what if you want to up your caffeine game and make your chai superpowered?
The best way to do that is to go for what people call a dirty chai latte. No, it’s not really dirty. But it will be darker than a normal one.
How do you make a chai dirty?
Just add a shot of espresso. The extra hit of caffeine in the espresso will give you a beverage with more energy-giving potential.
Dirty Chai Latte Caffeine Content
As you would expect, a dirty chai latte has more caffeine than any other type.
How much caffeine? Let’s do a comparison.
- An average tea has 45 mg of caffeine
- A regular espresso has 63 mg of caffeine
- An average 8-ounce serving of drip coffee has 100 mg of caffeine
- A dirty chai latte has 135 mg of caffeine due to the shot of espresso.
If you love your chai but need that extra push of caffeine, try a dirty chai latte and unite the worlds of tea and espresso.