It’s no secret that I’m a coffee lover, but a few years ago I discovered a new love: chai. Ooh that spicy seductive drink that fills my senses with complexity. I’ve been missing it and had never tried to make my own chai at home – until now. These three easy chai recipes are my favorites – and you’re going to love them too!
What is chai?
Simply put, chai is the Hindi word for “tea” (so calling it “chai tea” is actually redundant). We know it as a tea that is steeped with a variety of delicious spices, such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves, among others.
Many people ask for a “chai latte” when ordering chai, but I’ve recently learned that this term is also incorrect. The word latte is typically used to refer to a coffee drink that is mixed with milk; however since chai is traditionally made with milk, the addition of “latte” isn’t needed. Simply call it chai!
Any variety of milk can be used to make chai: dairy milk, soy, almond, or coconut. The resulting drink can be served hot or cold – your preference!
Many of the chai beverages served in popular coffee shops use a chai concentrate, rather than freshly brewed chai. While tasty, they don’t give the best chai flavor and unfortunately are often loaded with sugar!
I actually stopped drinking chai for a while because I couldn’t handle the sweetness. Not to mention, the cost of getting a daily drink on the go wasn’t exactly budget friendly for me! When I discovered how to make my own chai at home, I realized I could make it the way I wanted (and for a fraction of the cost).
What tea is best for chai?
Black tea is typically used for chai, with teas sourced from Darjeeling and Assam being the most popular. Loose leaf tea has a better flavor than bagged teas, as they have larger leaves and less dust than bags or popular pods for some brewing machines.
Tea quality is important, especially since the flavor of the tea makes up a large portion of the taste. A quality tea with the perfect strength, aroma, and color will provide you with the most delicious cup of chai with consistent taste.
Best sweeteners and mix-ins to use
Black tea with just milk tends to be a little strong for my taste, although some chai lovers prefer it that way. I like to add just enough sweetness to enhance my drink without overpowering the natural flavors and spices.
Granulated white sugar or artificial sweeteners can be used to sweeten your chai, but I don’t feel they provide the best flavor. The sweeteners I prefer and recommend are:
- honey (I love Manuka honey right now)
- brown sugar
- real maple syrup
- agave nectar
A quality chai also doesn’t necessarily need any additional ingredients, but occasionally I like to add a little something extra to my drink! Some of my favorite mix-ins to customize my chai latte are:
- ground cinnamon or cinnamon sticks
- ginger (fresh or dried)
- pumpkin spice (this pumpkin spice chai recipe is my favorite!!)
- whipped cream
- star anise (it looks pretty on top of real whipped cream!)
The fresher the ingredients, the better your drink will taste!
Chime Brewer – Making chai at home
I was able to try out Chime, a handy brewing device that helps me to create the perfect cup of chai right at home!
Chime works by using pre-filled caps that hold tea leaves and spices that have been sourced from quality tea and spice gardens. The caps have been nitrogen flushed so the tea and spices stay fresh for a long time (even though you’ll love them so much that they won’t have a chance to sit for long!).
A water tank on the back of the Chime holds 10 cups of water to make brewing quick and easy. A Chime cap is inserted into the top of the Chime, which releases the tea and spices into a stainless steel sieve. Add your choice of milk to the carafe, which also includes a removable frother. After choosing your drink size, strength, milk ratio and frothiness on the LCD screen, your drink is prepared in just minutes!
Chime is Bluetooth enabled and can easily connect to an app on your phone. While I wouldn’t recommend trying to brew your chai from your bed due to the need for fresh milk in the carafe (we don’t want milk sitting out overnight, right?), the process for brewing your own custom cup is so fast that it will be ready before your eyes fully adjust to daylight. And the app will save your favorite recipes so you can brew a cup wherever there is a Chime!
Chime has a variety of flavors that come in Chai Packs, a box of caps that hold your delicious tea and spices. Rejoice Ginger, Delight Cardamom, and Splendor Masala are my personal favorites!
Couldn’t you just brew a fresh cup of chai by hand? Well sure, but this busy mom doesn’t have time for that! Chime uses organic ingredients that stay fresh and give me a delicious drink fast, with quick and easy clean up. I can pop in a cap, pour my milk, and have a steaming cup of chai ready to sip without needing to turn my back on these mischievous toddlers!
I’d pay extra for the quality I’m getting with Chime – but luckily I don’t have to! It’s about 80% cheaper than what I can order at a cafe, and I don’t even have to leave my house.
Head over to the Chime website for more info or to get a Chime for yourself!
3 easy chai recipes
While I’m a creature of habit in some ways, I’m definitely adventurous in the kitchen. I love to experiment with different recipes, and I often try new ways to make my chai!
These are my 3 favorite recipes, and the ones I turn to the most.
Honey Ginger Chai (Non-Dairy)
Make sure you use a good honey for this one! It is the perfect sweetener for this drink.
- Chime Rejoice Ginger cap (I prefer medium strength)
- Almond milk (I do 50% milk ratio)
- 2 tsp honey
- sprinkle of cinnamon on top (optional)
Almond milk doesn’t make much of a froth, so use whole milk if you prefer a frothier drink.
Coconut Chai (Non-Dairy)
This is a great vegan chai recipe that I love!
- Chime Delight Cardamom cap (medium strength)
- unsweetened coconut milk (50% milk ratio)
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar (more or less to taste)
- top with coconut whipped cream (optional)
Dirty Iced Chai
When the weather heats up, a tall iced chai can cool me down! This recipe calls for cold brew, but you can also use regular coffee or espresso if you prefer.
- Chime Splendor Masala cap
- whole milk or 2%
- 1/2 c cold brew coffee
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- top with whipped cream and cinnamon garnish (optional)
Brew chai as directed for a regular cup (8 oz), then stir in maple syrup and vanilla while still hot. Allow to cool slightly.
Pour drink mixture over ice. Pour cold brew into glass and top with whipped cream and cinnamon if desired. Drink and enjoy!
Amanda is a mom of 4 living a mostly crunchy lifestyle outside of Atlanta, GA with her husband, 2 dogs, and a cat. As a former special education teacher who also has her personal training certification — Amanda really enjoys teaching others how to do things!
When she’s not working, Amanda enjoys DIY projects, exercising, photography, hiking, and long walks through Target.