On a cold day, holding a hot cup of chai tea is one of those simple pleasures that's hard to beat. This original Indian brewed tea is full of flavor and can be a great source of energy too.
In this short guide, find out what chai tea contains (including the caffeine content), what benefits and side effects you can expect, and three tasty recipes that can rival Starbucks.
Chai tea is a flavored type of tea which contains black tea with a variety of spices. It's made using boiling water and milk, then typically sweetened.
Did you know that 'chai tea' literally means 'tea tea'? Chai translates as tea, and masala translates as spiced. So, now you know what a masala chai is all about!
Chai originates in India, where herbs and spices have been used to brew ayurvedic drinks for centuries, but the chai we know today (black tea plus spice) goes back to the 19th century when tea plantations were first established in India.
Fast-forward to today, you can find chai tea as syrup concentrate, ready-made tea bags, and even cold-brewed in bottles. But that original taste of tea combined with spices remains a huge hit.
Just like there are many formats of chai tea now available, there are also different types of chai teas to try.
Then there are the westernized chai tea types. The standard spiced chai latte, the dirty chai (coffee and spiced tea together), and a range of herbal teas that don't contain caffeine at all.
Rooibos is a popular caffeine-free alternative to black tea chai, as the rich, malty and nutty taste goes great with chai spices like ginger, cardamom and cinnamon.
The ingredients in chai tea vary, but the essence is always the same. You need a tea base, usually black tea, along with spices to add flavor.
Adding milk and sugar to taste is optional - they may taste great, but they aren't always so amazing for your health.
Any black tea type is great in chai, but if you're looking for a type of tea that's grown in India, then consider Assam or Darjeeling.
Both are used traditionally to make chai tea. Assam has a rich, bold and malty flavor, while Darjeeling tends to be a little more delicate - although it can still have nutty and spiced notes that work well for a chai beverage.
In our high energy chai tea, we use Flowery Orange Pekoe black tea, which is natural and non-GMO certified. It also provides those typical black tea properties you expect in a chai tea - rich, warming, and full of flavor.
The star ingredients in chai tea are the spices. Here are a few of the most common you could find in a chai tea:
Although only a few grams (or milligrams) of spice end up infused in your tea, their intake can have some great benefits for your health. We'll cover those below.
Yes, there is caffeine in chai tea. How much caffeine depends on the tea base used. For a typical black tea the amount of caffeine is quite low (roughly 47mg), especially compared to a cup of coffee (roughly 96mg 2). The exception here is Zest High Energy Teas, which contain up to 150mg.
The amount of caffeine per cup you drink also depends on how long you brew it. A long steep in very hot water extracts the most caffeine the fastest.
One of the great properties of tea is the amino acid content, L-Theanine. Unlike coffee, teas have additional benefits from the way this amino acid interacts with caffeine. It slows down the onset of caffeine, prolongs the energy, smooths the crash, and even enhances calm and creative productivity.
Our Guide to High Caffeine Tea covers the caffeine/L-Theanine process and the scientific research behind it all.
One of the reasons we love choosing chai as our daily cup of tea is that it's quite versatile. Here are three different ways to make a cup of brewed chai, all of which work amazingly with our Zest Tea spicy Masala Chai blend.
The great thing about Zest Spicy Masala Chai is that it includes all the spices and black tea of a traditional chai (plus their health benefits) in a convenient format.
You can make a quick and tasty chai to-go this way. Don't forget that Zest Tea contains 150 mg of caffeine to boost your energy too.
Chai lattes are highly popular, especially at Starbucks during fall and winter. But you can actually make a chai latte easily at home, without all the sugary syrup crap and a million calories.
A traditional latte is made with espresso coffee and steamed milk. But we can replace the espresso with Spicy Masala Chai.
The steamed milk doesn't remove caffeine from the black tea, but there still may be less caffeine in a chai latte compared to a full mug of black chai. This is simply because there's a lot less chai and a lot more milk.
A good way to boost the caffeine content of your latte is to use Zest Tea, which naturally contains a high amount of caffeine anyway.
If you want your chai teas to be as authentic as possible, you can follow a more traditional method.
Chai tea can be a healthy drink for your mornings. Our chai blend contains cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.
Adding milk is a great way to get your calcium dose for the day, but just go easy on it. Too much fat from dairy plus the sugar you add to chai could cancel out these potential health benefits.
As for side effects, these mostly come from consuming too much caffeine. But as you know by now, even the teas with the highest caffeine per cup (AKA, Zest Tea) are still way below the daily recommended limit of 400mg!
Chai simply means tea, which originates from China. The spiced, milk tea that we commonly refer to as chai (or masala chai) originates from India.
Yes, different combinations of spice ingredients create different chai types. Not all chai teas contain a caffeinated tea type for the body of the tea either.
It provides caffeine and L-Theanine through the black tea, plus flavor and unique health benefits through the spices.
Chai is black tea plus spices, often sweetened with sugar, honey, or syrup - but not always. Our Spicy Masala Chai blend, for example, contains a warming black tea and comforting spices, with no sugar or artificial flavors needed.
Yes! There are many people that enjoy drinking all types of tea blends every day.
The caffeine content in chai tea isn't good for sleep, however the L-Theanine can stimulate calm feelings and reduce anxiety. Furthermore, a hot milk-based beverage before bed is a great way to get cozy!
Yes, chai contains caffeine from the black tea leaves. The spices and milk do not add additional caffeine. There's roughly 50 mg of caffeine in a cup of brewed black tea. However, in Zest's cup of chai tea, there's 150 mg of caffeine! Read our article about High Caffeine Teas to learn more.
Traditionally, chai is made by infusing tea and spices directly in milk. A chai latte is made by infusing the leaves and spices with water, then combining with frothy milk. Different prep, but still two great tasty chai teas!