Long ago, before the days of my super-stocked tea cabinet and desire for encyclopedic knowledge about every loose leaf tea that crossed my path — er, cup — there were the days of the chai. All I knew was that it was creamy, spicy, sweet, warming, and autumnal, and with $4, I could pick one up pretty much anywhere hot beverages were sold. What I didn’t know? That with little prep time (and way less than $4), I could make one on my own that was even tastier. Follow along for my quick tips on how to make a chai tea latte at home, as well as some fun variations to please any tea lover’s palate!
Two Easy Ways to Chai
An easy gateway to the tea world for novices, you’ll find some iteration of chai at practically every coffee shop in the Western world, regardless of how bountiful (or pitiful) their tea selection happens to be otherwise. You’ll find that most shops make their chai with a liquid concentrate (or in some cases, a powdered drink mix), but the traditional preparation is the same as any tea beverage — you start with tea leaves!
With the upswing in popularity of tea brewing at home, it’s not hard to find loose leaf chai blends with the spices already perfectly proportioned and blended in. For our recipe below, this is the most foolproof way to brew. But if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can play around with brewing your own — simply start with a good quality black tea and add spices to your taste as you go. The most common chai spices are warming ones like cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, anise seed, clove, and ginger.
For a great at-home chai latte, we recommend one of two methods: brewing the tea in hot water and adding your milk after (like a latte), or, for a creamier (but potentially less-foolproof) cuppa, brewing your spiced tea straight in milk on the stovetop. With these options, you’ll never find yourself wondering how to make a chai tea latte at home ever again!
Chai Method #1: In Water
- 2 teaspoons loose leaf chai tea
- 6 ounces hot water
- Sweetener of choice, to taste
- 2 ounces hot, frothed milk
Brew your tea in water as you normally would. After steeping time has completed, remove the tea leaves, add your sweetener, and top with frothed milk. Simple and delicious!
Chai Method #2: In Milk
Simmer milk in a small saucepan on the stove until gently bubbling, not boiling. Add your tea leaves and stir gently. Let steep until milk is your desired color, or around 3-5 minutes. Strain tea leaves from milk, and add sweetener to taste.
Chai Something Different
Of course, while we may associate chai with the traditional spiced black tea, this format for brewing extends far beyond just this particular flavor of loose leaf. Why not brew up some of your other favorite black tea blends into homemade lattes? Hearty breakfast teas and creamy, spiced black teas make especially lovely brews, but even dessert teas and herbals can be brewed into a creamy, tasty and comforting treat at home. (Nutella tea latte, anyone?)
However you choose to brew it, there’s no doubt that duplicating a cozy chai latte treat at home couldn’t be simpler. Nor more autumnal!