Chai latte from scratch with whipped cream is perfect for those cold winter days and nights. You’ll never go back to store-bought chai after making this one!
Just like how barley tea is a staple in Korean kitchens, masala chai is a spiced tea drink common in India.
Chai translates to tea. (So it’s incorrect to say ‘chai tea’ since that’s saying ‘tea tea.’) A chai latte is composed of black tea, milk, spices, and sweetened with sugar.
To make chai from scratch, I took the flavors and spices that are common in a masala chai (in the US, it’s shortened to just chai) and added a creamy layer by adding whipped cream.
There is no universal chai spice blend, so no two are really the same, but you’ll taste some overlapping flavors like cardamom, ginger, star anise, cloves, and cinnamon.
I created my own chai spice blend by trying a whole bunch of different flavor combinations. After two weeks of testing, and consuming two cups of chai per day, I came up with my final chai recipe, which I must say, is pretty darn tasty.
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What I Used to Make This Chai Latte
- Black tea (I prefer Assam for this recipe.)
- Cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, whole cloves, star anise, black peppercorns
- Ground nutmeg, ground ginger
- Vanilla extract
- Brown sugar
- Milk (any kind)
- Mesh Strainer
- Saucepan with spout (Makes it so much easier to pour.)
- Immersion blender
- Latte maker (This just makes it a little fancier but you don’t need to froth milk for this recipe.)
Best Tea for Chai Latte
Indian black tea is the best tea to use for a chai latte. Assam and Darjeeling are the most popular and well known of Indian black teas.
But really, you can use any black tea, even Lipton tea bags. Since there are so many spices and flavors combined together, you don’t need to use the highest quality black tea.
Chai Latte Spices
I didn’t want one strong spice to dominate since I hate chai that’s way too spicy with ginger or cloves. I think my chai is really well balanced in flavor.
In order to get that perfect balance of spices, I ended up adding in a LOT of them. So when you look at the ingredients, don’t get too overwhelmed since each one adds so much to it tasting so great.
Cardamom is the most common ingredient in a chai, so of course that’s in my chai latte. Other common ingredients are in there too: ginger, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, and pepper.
I added nutmeg and vanilla extract to round out the flavor.
I don’t use a lot of ground spices for this chai latte. Instead, I used whole spices (then crushed them) since it has a richer depth of flavor. Also, whole spices tend to be less expensive than ground.
You may not want to get all these different spices for ONE drink but that’s where the chai concentrate comes in.
Make a couple of batches of chai without the milk and store it in the fridge so that you can make a chai latte in a couple of minutes by adding hot milk and whipped cream. (The whipped cream you can also make ahead of time.)
The spices have a shelf life of 2-4 years but I usually finish them in a year by making the chai concentrate for iced chai lattes in the summer and hot chai lattes in the winter.
No more buying too-sweet or too-spicy chai concentrates from the supermarket. By making it from scratch, you can adjust the sweetness or take out any spices you really don’t like.
How to Make a Chai Latte
I start with the chai concentrate. This can be made ahead of time and into multiple batches to heat up for chai lattes throughout the week.
Crush or chop the star anise, cardamom pods, and cloves. This will release more of the flavor faster.
Brew together spices, brown sugar, and the black tea in water. Simmer on low for 10 minutes.
Take it off the heat and filter out the spices using a mesh strainer.
The last part of the chai concentrate is to add the vanilla extract. It’s too delicate to add with everything else over heat on the stovetop.
The chai concentrate is done!
You can let it cool a bit then store it in the refrigerator in a covered container. It’ll keep for about a week.
While the chai is simmering, make the whipped cream which adds a sweet touch to the chai latte.
You don’t NEED to make a cream layer, but I love it.
To make the whipped cream, I use an immersion blender on low for a few seconds.
I like to make the cream with soft peaks and not too stiff so it lays on top of the chai latte better, spreading out on top instead of in tight lumps.
The next part is warming up the milk. I used my latte maker to froth the milk a little but you definitely don’t need to froth milk for this recipe since we’re adding the whipped cream layer which will sit on top of the drink.
Make sure to simmer the milk and to not let it burn by preventing it from boiling.
All the parts are ready to be brought together for this delicious drink. Yes, I’m calling my own drink “delicious” because IT IS.
Pour half a cup of hot chai concentrate into a mug.
Fill the cup with hot milk, leaving some room on top for the whipped cream.
Spoon the whipped cream and garnish the drink with some cinnamon or top it with a star anise.