The best chai is the one made at home, from scratch. Sweet, spicy, and milky– my iced chai latte recipe is one you’ll make over and over again.
What is Chai Tea?
Hold on, hold on. First, let me say that the words ‘chai’ and ‘tea’ together are redundant.
Chai translates to the word ‘tea’ in Hindi. That’s why it’s incorrect to say “chai tea” since you’re just saying “tea tea.”
Ok, Fine. What is Chai?
Chai is any type of tea, but when we in the U.S. say “chai”, we mean a drink made of tea and spices. This spiced chai is known as masala chai in India but we just call it chai.
There is no single specific blend of spices that are universally used. So when you order chai at one cafe, it’ll most likely taste different at another.
You’ll also taste a difference among various chai in tea bags you can order online. Some may have a stronger clove flavor while another may have more star anise.
The BEST chai is the one you make yourself, since you can tailor it to your taste.
What’s in a Chai Latte?
Chai is made up of black tea, milk, a blend of spices, and sugar (or honey).
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What I Use to Make Iced Chai Latte
Best Black Tea for Chai
The base for chai is black tea. Since chai is a beverage out of India, black tea from that area is the natural and obvious choice.
Look for black tea labeled Assam or Darjeeling as they are the most commonly used and the best to make chai.
Darjeeling can get very costly since there is a wide range of quality and for this recipe, get one that doesn’t cost too much.
Since the black tea is going to be blended with strong spices and milk, you don’t want to use the highest quality. Tea bags are fine to use for this recipe.
Even Lipton tea bags will work if that’s what you have.
The spices that are easy to find and available in India make up the spice blend.
Cardamom is the most used ingredient in chai and it’s usually blended with ginger, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, and pepper.
Other spices that can be added are nutmeg, fennel seed, coriander, and vanilla.
If possible, get the whole spice instead of the grounded version since that’ll taste the best. (Although I did use ground ginger and ground nutmeg since it was easier to work with.)
My chai recipe was created through A LOT of trial and error, mixing a variety of spices. It took about two weeks of testing to get my chai blend of spices just right.
I used to buy the powdered chai mixes from Trader Joe’s and my local supermarket before I started making my own. Can I say how much BETTER mine is?
My chai has no artificial ingredients and I can adjust the sweetness. (The powdered chai mixes are WAY too sweet.)
The one thing that I loved about the powdered version is how quick it was to make a chai latte. I mean, it’s an instant mix — all I had to do was heat up some milk or water.
Once I came up with my chai recipe, I made it into a concentrate so that I can make several cups and store it in the refrigerator. (It’ll keep for up to five days.)
I don’t add milk to my chai concentrate since I like to add that later when it’s ready to be served. This leaves it open for any guest who may want something other than whole milk.
How to Make Iced Chai Latte
First, the chai concentrate. This is where all the magic happens.
Everything but the milk is put into a saucepan and simmered until a rich brew is made.
The contents are strained out, the vanilla extract is added, and you’ve got yourself a chai concentrate.
If you want a hot chai latte, you can add warm milk (see how to froth milk at home) and you’re done.
I use this ratio: one part chai concentrate to one part milk.
To make iced chai latte, let the chai concentrate cool and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour before serving.
If you’re in a rush, you can drop in some ice cubes to cool it down. Although by adding more water, you’ll dilute the concentrate a bit.
For the iced chai latte, the ratio is the same as the hot drink with one part chai concentrate to one part milk.
Get a glass of ice and pour chai to fill half the glass.
Add more ice if needed to fill the cup.
Pour in milk and you’re done. TA DA!
Pairing Chai with Food
If you’re looking for ideas on what kind of food to serve with chai, you’ve come to the right place!
I like having chai with afternoon snacks and it makes for a great beverage for a tea break with small bites. (There’s caffeine in chai so don’t drink too much of it late in the day if you’re sensitive.)
Any baked good or pastry, like a scone or pound cake that isn’t too sweet, is great with chai. I find cakes with icing and pies to be overly sweet for it to be a good pairing.
Chai is great for breakfast if you want to replace coffee with tea as it pairs well with waffles, croissants, and muffins.
Chocolate also pairs well with chai, especially if it’s dark chocolate.
- 2 cups milk (any kind)
- 2 cups water
- 6 teaspoons (6 tea bags) black tea like Assam
- 3 tablespoons honey or sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 star anise
- 10 cardamom pods
- 10 whole cloves
- 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
- Ice cubes
- Crush and roughly chop the star anise, cloves, and cardamom pods.
- In a saucepan, add all ingredients except for the milk, vanilla extract, and ice cubes.
- Bring the chai mixture to a boil then simmer for 10 minutes.
- Strain out the tea leaves or tea bags and spices and discard.
- Add the vanilla extract to the chai concentrate.
- Let cool and then put the chai concentrate in the refrigerator for about an hour to chill.
- To serve, fill a cup with ice and pour chai concentrate halfway. Add more ice if necessary to fill the cup then add the milk.