What Is Chai?
To many people, ‘Chai tea’ translates to ‘tea tea’.
Stemming from the Chinese word for tea, ‘cha’, this word spread through the Persian ‘chay’, eventually reaching much of the Eastern side of the globe.
However, in the West, language barriers and appropriations have led to Indian Masala Chai blends becoming known as Chai tea.
This delicious and fragrant Chai blend of spices, black tea and milk has become popular around the world for its flavour and supposed ayurvedic properties.
While there is NO medical evidence to support the necessity of drinking Chai tea to maintain good health, some of the spices it contains have been linked to good heart health and digestion.
Depending on how you brew it, Chai tea can be considered healthy, as the tea blends typically contain no inherent sugars.
Traditional tea blends will usually contain caffeine and some spices, which should be avoided by pregnant women and those with heart conditions.
Please consult with a doctor if you are unsure if certain Chai blends are appropriate for your consumption.
We further address health concerns in our Frequently Asked Questions section.
Chai tea can be consumed many ways. The simplest of these is to drink it black from the tea bag and hot water.
However, for a more nuanced drink, you can make it into a traditional Masala Chai with the tea and spices cooked in a pot with milk, water and honey before being strained to serve.
Additionally, many baristas are now offering Chai made into a latte with steamed milk being added to a Chai concentrate.
Due to the variations between these blends, it is important that you examine the different teas available and choose the best Chai tea for you.
Before You Buy
When finding the best Chai tea, we recommend that you assess each product. We’ve put together a handy guide below to help you make an informed decision.
A traditional Chai black tea blend will usually be based around a standard Assam black tea, which provides a strong flavour.
The Masala spice blend is also often available on its own, allowing you to make a caffeine free tea or use it in cooking.
The spices used in tea blends will vary between products and companies, as some stray away from traditional Indian spices to incorporate flavours such as chocolate or vanilla, making a sweeter blend without honey.
Chai tea blends will usually contain the following spices:
- Cinnamon (can lower blood sugar)
- Ginger (can impact digestion and lower blood sugar)
- Star anise
- Black pepper cloves
- Fennel (can lower blood pressure)
Black tea is considered the strongest of the tea leaves, both in flavour and caffeine content.
However, due to the popularity of Masala spice blends and increased reluctance around caffeine levels, more blends have become available.
These are often based around lighter tea leaves, such as green tea or white tea, or could be a caffeine free alternative, such as a rooibos base.
It is important to see what the base of each blend is to assess the caffeine levels it will give you.
Ethics of Production
Not all countries have benefited from the global market equally, and it is important that you see that the tea leaves and spices in the blends you buy are ethically sourced.
Many of the products will say where they source their ingredients and how they deal with environmental impacts from their products.
As mentioned above, you can drink Chai tea in many forms.
Consequently, it is important that you buy a blend that matches how you want to brew it and the equipment that you have.
A simple Chai tea bag requires only a cup and boiling water, but if you buy loose leaf tea, then you will need to use a tea strainer to brew it.
Similarly, Chai lattes require steamed milk, and Masala Chai needs a pot and strainer as well as honey.
By considering how you will drink it, you can make sure that the blend you buy is the best choice for your drink.
Best Chai Tea
- Black tea
- Natural Chai flavours
- Natural cinnamon flavours
- Natural ginger flavours
This black tea blend contains natural ingredients and high quality leaves from trusted growers around the world.
Available through bulk buying, this is the perfect Chai tea for a budget, and each tea bag is individually wrapped to add convenience and cleanliness.
From a trusted brand that’s been selling tea for over 300 years, Twinings Chai is a great tea to buy for those who want a straightforward and reliable brew.
With a blend of rich and powerful spices, this tea mixes sweet and savory to provide a robust and warming drink.
Twinings Chai mixes the flavours of cinnamon, cardamon, cloves and ginger to balance the black tea and create a delicious Masala flavour.
- Convenient tea bags
- Bulk buying
- Budget friendly
- Quality blend of black tea and natural spice flavours
- Lots of packaging
- Have to open each bag individually
Price: 120 tea bags/ 8.5oz for $29 (around 25c per cup)
- Black tea
- Star anise
A favourite of tea lovers around the world, T2’s classic Chai is a must for anyone looking to get into drinking Chai tea!
This complex and spicy blend is sourced from quality ingredients around the world and uses experimental blends to find the best flavours.
It is made with biodegradable tea bags and a recyclable cardboard box, making it an environmental choice too.
T2 is a climate compensated B Corp company, so you know your funds are going to the farmers and growers who earned them.
Keep an eye on this brand, it’s not uncommon for them to drop chocolate and gingersnap Chai flavours too!
- Delicious, quality tea blend
- Value for money
- Convenient to use and dispose of
- Ethical company
- Star anise can be a quite strong flavour
Price: 25 tea bags/ 2.3oz for $6.50 (around 26c per cup)
- Black pepper
Unlike the others on this list, Yogi’s Classic Chai is caffeine free! How, you might ask? Simple, it contains no tea leaves!
This blend of certified organic spices contains the sweet and savoury flavours of a Masala Chai blend, without the typical black tea leaves.
This makes the tea a good choice for children, pregnant women, and those who should avoid caffeine for heart related issues.
The tea can be boiled and used the same as any other, making it a good choice for evenings when you are relaxing.
This is also a good option for making a ‘dirty Chai’, where a shot of coffee is added to a Chai latte.
Yogi’s Chai is a good value option to keep in the tea cupboard when you cannot drink the regular Chai tea.
- Caffeine free
- Certified organic
- Balanced spice mix
- Decent value
- Not an actual ‘tea’
- Loose leaf (requires a strainer)
- Ayurvedic claims are NOT medically proven
Price: 3oz for $10 (around 45c per cup)
- Black tea
- Pink peppercorns
Made with quality ingredients from around the world, Tiesta Tea offers a slightly more nuanced Chai tea than the others on our list.
It incorporates pink peppercorns into its spice mix for a delicate and sweeter peppery buzz.
The other balanced spices work well with this to create a delicious and warming drink, with the high caffeine kick of black tea.
Tiesta’s Chai is made from all natural ingredients and comes in an attractive and recyclable tin that can be refilled once you finish your first batch, minimising waste and packaging.
Not only that, but the company strives to have a positive social impact, currently helping to build wells in Nigerian farming communities.
This Chai is great for the planet and your kitchen shelf aesthetic!
- More interesting spice palate
- Reusable tin
- All natural ingredients
- Good value
- Ethical company
- Loose leaf (requires a strainer)
- Not the spiciest blend
- Need to shake the tin before use
Price: 4oz for $12 (around 24c per cup)
- Black tea
- Natural cinnamon flavor
- Natural vanilla flavor
- Ginger root
- Natural peach flavor
- Chicory root
- Licorice root
- Chinese star anise
- Black pepper
- Steviol glycosides (stevia)
This is a much sweeter tea than the others. Good Earth’s Chai incorporates vanilla and maple flavours into its spice blend to provide a tasty and comforting blend.
This is by far the most complex blend on our list, including chicory and licorice root for a deeper flavour, as well as stevia for sugar-free sweetness.
The company is climate friendly and dedicated to natural ingredients, making Good Earth’s Chai a guilt-free indulgent choice for those looking to blend sweet and spicy flavours.
Price: 72 tea bags/ 4oz for $30 (around 42c per cup)
- Sweet and spicy
- Climate conscious
- Complex flavour blend
- Natural ingredients
- Contains stevia
- May be too many flavours to balance the spices
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Chai Tea?
Chai tea (or tea tea if you prefer) commonly refers to a Masala spice blended tea.
This is an Indian drink, where black tea is boiled with spices such as cinnamon, ginger and cloves, as well as milk and honey.
In the West, the flavours have been played with, as this drink can be taken as a latte or even made ‘dirty’ by a shot of coffee.
Can I Drink Chai Tea Everyday?
There is evidence to suggest that having black tea each day is good for your heart health, and the spices commonly found in Chai teas won’t hurt if taken daily.
For those who need to avoid caffeine and certain spices, please speak with your doctor before drinking Chai tea.
Having very sugary Chai teas with lots of honey and cream should be avoided, however, as these are not healthy as part of a daily diet.
So, while you can drink it daily, examine your diet and determine the best Chai tea for you.
Is Chai Tea Good For You?
The science is still out on whether or not the spices that make Chai teas special are actually effective treatments.
However, black tea has been found to be good for your heart in small doses, and many of the herbs commonly contained have been linked to lowered blood sugar and aiding digestion.
The more sugar you put in Chai tea, the less healthy it will become, so consider making your tea without honey.
Does Drinking Tea Make You Lose Weight?
There is no tea that is a good replacement for food in your diet.
While drinking fluids is important for maintaining body health and the protein from milk in Chai tea will help you feel full and healthy, you must enjoy these teas as part of a balanced diet.
For those seeking to improve their body health, drinking the tea black or without honey is a good step to lowering the calories in it.
Black tea also has laxative qualities, which may hinder body health if taken in large quantities. Enjoy everything in moderation.
Should I Buy Chai Tea Bags or Loose Leaf Tea?
This is really up to you.
You can make a fantastic drink with either, and if you are not a big tea drinker, then buying Chai tea bags rather than investing in a strainer may be the best move for you.
Tea bags often have pieces that have been chopped up smaller, and some people find this softens the flavours slightly.
Don’t stress too much about this factor; you’re better off looking at the flavours for each tea to decide which is the best Chai tea for you.
Is Chai a Black Tea?
As a literal translation, Chai means black tea. Masala Chai that we drink in Chai teas and lattes is typically made from black tea.
However, tea-free blends and ones made from younger tea leaves have become increasingly popular for those who want less caffeine in their drinks.
Final Thoughts on the Best Chai Tea
So, what are our overall recommendations?
For those seeking a great teabag at a good price, the best Chai tea is the T2 Chai Tea Bags, as these are a quality brew that is great for you and the planet.
For those wanting to invest in loose leaf tea, the best Chai tea is the Tiesta Tea Chai Love, as it provides a great balance of spice in a reusable tin.