What Does Chai Tea Taste Like? Really?

The taste of chai tea is earthy and malty, with a distinct aroma. Two of the most recognizable flavors are cinnamon and clove. Many other kinds of spices may be used, depending on the recipe. Most chai teas include ginger, cloves, and black pepper. Some people like to add milk to the tea to make it creamier. 

what does chai tea taste like

Some say Chai tea tastes like a warm hug. It has a pleasant flavor that evokes feelings of warmth, comfort, and compassion. Let’s delve into everything about chai tea — from its history to its wide array of flavors (and health benefits, too!). 

What is Chai Tea?

Chai tea is a black tea flavored with cinnamon, cloves, and other spices. Tea beverages made with chai spices have a rich taste profile that includes cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger, and nutmeg. Chai tea may either be made with loose leaves or tea bags, depending on your preference. 

This creamy and rich beverage is ideal for cold mornings or nights, especially if it’s prepared with milk and honey.

Additionally, chai can be served chilled or mixed into smoothies too.

The Origins of Chai

Chai’s history extends back between 5,000 and 9,000 years to an old royal court in either India or Siam.

According to history, the reigning king invented the recipe as an Ayurvedic drink. Traditionally, Chai was made using various techniques and included an equally broad assortment of spices.

Recipes varied by location, and it was offered both hot and cold as a treatment for minor diseases.

In 1935, the British East India Company planted tea plants in Assam in an effort to break the Chinese monopoly on tea exports to the United Kingdom. 

In 1870, nearly 90 percent of the tea consumed in the United Kingdom was imported from China.

However, by 1900, this proportion had decreased to 10 percent, with India and Ceylon becoming the primary suppliers.

Chai Teas Rise in Popularity

In the 1830s, black tea was progressively incorporated into the original Chai spice blend, giving rise to the Chai we know today.

However, because of the exorbitant prices of chai, the tea spice mix was not popular until the 1900s, when the India Tea Company launched a vigorous effort to boost tea sales by promoting ‘tea breaks’ for employees.

This led to both a rise in total tea sales and a rise in the number of chai dealers who added spices to their blends. 

loose chai tea ingredients

Although first prohibited by the Indian Tea Company (the tea was diluted with spices, milk, and sugar to save expenses), it became the most popular beverage very quickly.

When mechanized tea manufacturing CTC (cut, tear, curl) was invented in the 1960s, its popularity increased once again. CTC produces tea with a faster infusion time and better flavors. 

Ultimately, the popularity of masala chai grew and became embedded in Indian culture and way of life.

Today, Masala Chai tea booths are a frequent sight in India, from modest roadside stops to major metropolitan enterprises, each with its distinct Chai Recipe. It has also grown in prominence in Western society over the last three to four decades.

Chai Lattes are already a staple on café menus, and there is a burgeoning subculture of chai aficionados who seek out real, high-quality chai items to purchase or prepare at home. 

The Components of Chai Tea

There are many distinct types of chai nowadays, which means that there are many different ingredients in each kind.

If you’ve never had chai before, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with its traditional components.


Traditional chai is made using black tea leaves as its base. Because black tea includes caffeine, chai is a caffeinated drink. However, the harshness can be reduced by adding sugar and milk to the beverage. 


Spices transform chai into a unique beverage with a distinct flavor. Cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and ginger are among the classic spices used in traditional chai. Chai tea can also contain black pepper and basil.

Some also add lemon and ginger for an extra kick!


Chai and milk are a traditional combination. Nowadays, this is also known as a chai latte. Any type of milk can be added to a chai tea; many non-dairy alternatives, such as oat, almond or soy, have become hugely popular with chai tea.


The most common sweetener for chai is honey. However, sugar may be added to taste if desired. If you’re not accustomed to spices, you can dilute it with milk and add a sweetener.

a woman drinking a cup hot chai tea

Different Flavors and Variations of Chai

Because chai tea is so versatile, you can expect to find a wide range of flavor combinations. Here are some common chai variations you can find on the market today: 

Vanilla Chai

Most people in the United States prefer Vanilla Chai. When creating chai tea lattes, many coffee establishments use a small amount of this flavor.

The vanilla taste profile adds an additional layer of warmth and comfort. When making this drink at home, you may add a dash of vanilla essence or syrup. 

Lemongrass Chai 

Lemongrass is an important part of the flavor profile of this chai. The herb must be cooked first before it can be added to the drink.

Once the lemongrass has been boiled, it is steeped with black tea. Some also like to add a squeeze of lemon juice to bring out the tangy taste profile of lemongrass. 

Pre-Made Chai Tea

Pre-made chai tea blends may be found at many coffee establishments. It’s not uncommon for retail establishments to get their teabags and tea mix from a wholesaler.

Pre-made chai tea is your best bet if you want to replicate the taste of a store-bought chai tea. Most grocery shops also offer liquids, tea bags, and powders in various forms.

Does Chai Tea Contain Caffeine? 

Since black tea is the most common foundation for authentic chai, it naturally includes caffeine. For this reason, many people prefer tea over coffee since it contains less caffeine than coffee

Even in the morning, many people choose to drink tea instead of coffee since it is believed to be a healthier choice. Because of this, switching to chai instead of coffee is a great idea. Have I mentioned we are biased towards tea? haha. 

What Is A Dirty Chai? 

Dirty chai is an excellent option for individuals who don’t like the taste of coffee and want to revel in chai-flavored beverages. Coffee, milk, and spiced black tea are all combined in a latte called a “dirty chai”

It has a light coffee taste and is smooth and creamy with a fragrant spice aroma. Adding an additional shot of espresso will increase the potency of the brew too!

a hot cup of chai tea

How To Prepare Chai Tea

There are several ways to make chai tea at home.

  • Some individuals like to prepare a concentrated blend of tea and spices and then add milk and sugar to taste.
  • Others opt to brew a stronger and more concentrated cup of black tea and add the spices, milk, and sweetener directly.
  • Some individuals like to boil the ingredients in a saucepan or teapot until they’re hot and aromatic.

No matter what you put in it or how you make it, chai tea is a tasty and comforting beverage that is ideal for cold nights or mornings. You can even add ice to it — its perfect to sip on during hot summer days!

Give it a go and see if it works for you.

The Health Benefits of Chai

Did you know that chai tea also contains health benefits? A cup of chai tea may provide a wide range of health advantages depending on the spices used and how it is made.

Here are some of its potential health benefits: 

It Can Lower Blood Pressure 

​​The cinnamon in chai tea has been shown to lower blood pressure, particularly in diabetics. Blood pressure may be reduced by several points in persons who consume several cups of black tea each day, according to studies.

It Can Boost Brain Health 

Tea and spices in chai may help improve overall cognitive performance. Attention and memory may be improved by just smelling cinnamon. Both caffeine and L-theanine, an amino acid in black tea, may boost attention.

It Can Lower Blood Sugar

A cup of black tea may help to keep blood sugar levels stable and avoid unexpected rises. It’s particularly useful for regulating blood sugar levels after consuming sweet drinks.

Frequently Asked Questions

a cup of cocoa chai tea

What does Starbucks’ Chai Tea taste like? 

The chai tea served at Starbucks largely consists of cinnamon and cloves. There is a significant quantity of milk added by Starbucks, though. Because of this,  the chai tea latte becomes rather sweet. 

What does the Chai Tea at Dunkin Donuts taste like? 

The company considers the chai tea latte from Dunkin’ Donuts to be the right balance of sweet and spicy. The drink does not have a harsh taste, but it does have some of the usual traditional characteristics one may anticipate.

Is Chai Tea Healthier Than Coffee?

For sure, it is. As well as generally having less caffeine, the black tea is full of antioxidants. Tea aside, a Chai is full of herbs and spices that have been used for thousands of years to promote health and vitality.

Is Chai Tea Good For Stress?

Sure there are numerous health benefits from the tea and the spices in a Chai, but that aside, it is a nice warm and tasty drink that makes you feel good. A nice warm chai (especially in winter) can make you feel soothed, relaxed and help you de-stress a little.

What Is The Best Chai To Buy?

We cover the answer in-depth in the article, What Is The Best Chai Tea.

What Does Chai Tea Taste Like? – The Bottomline

What does chai taste like? Traditional chai is made by brewing black tea with spices. When chai is brewed correctly, whether at home or at a store, it has a sweet, spicy flavor with an earthy undertone.

If you like cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, you’ll find many flavors in this tea.

Adding sugar, milk, or even coffee might alter the flavor of your chai. Try various methods of consuming chai tea to find out what you like!