Chai latte is a tea-based drink diluted with milk. It’s spicy and sweet and delicious… and very expensive and high in sugar and calories if you buy it at Starbucks or other tea and coffee chains. You can make chai latte at home, which is not only cheaper, but gives you more control over the nutritional content. Even better, you can make an instant chai latte mix to take on the road.
Chai Latte from scratch
If you’re making chai latte hot at home, where you have access to all sorts of ingredients, here’s a traditional recipe.
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons black tea leaves
- 1 big strip of orange peel
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 whole cloves
- 3 whole black peppercorns
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- White sugar to taste
Put your milk and water in a saucepan over medium to medium-high heat. Once it’s simmering, add the tea leaves, cinnamon stick, orange peel, cloves, peppercorns and nutmeg. Bring this mixture to boil, then reduce your heat to low, and let it simmer until it’s a deep golden brown. Strain the mixture into cups, add sugar to individual taste, and serve.
Homemade Chai Latte mix
You may want an instant chair latte mix instead: a powder that you can spoon into boiling water anywhere boiling water’s available. This is great for taking to an office or on a trip. It’s particularly nice for camping. And, again, it will save you money compared to buying chai latte mixes from grocery stores or coffee chains.
The trick with this mix is to throw your ingredients into a food processor so they mix to a very fine, very thoroughly blended powder that will work predictably when you put it in boiled water – like an instant capuccino mix.
- 2 cups of dry milk powder
- 2 cups powdered non-dairy creamer
- a 3.5 ounce package of vanilla instant pudding mix
- 2 cups evaporated cane juice (or brown sugar, if preferred)
- 2 cups unsweetened instant tea
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
Mix everything together and process it through a food processor until it seems evenly fine. The ingredient ratios are flexible as per your taste – especially on spice. For example, you might want to leave the clove out completely and add a little extra ginger – or replace it with nutmeg. Feel free to tweak the recipe, because you can really do anything you like. To make a cup from this mix, use three heaping tablespoons to a twelve ounce mug.
If you’re avoiding sugar completely, you can use almost any substitute you like in either of these recipes: Splenda, Stevia, you name it. Anything that dissolves in hot water will work. If you’re just avoiding refined table sugar, you can also use honey or agave juice in the made-from-scratch recipe, or evaporated cane juice in the mix. Evaporated cane juice is still from the sugar cane plant, but it hasn’t had all the (minimal) nutrients replaced with chemicals in the refining process that white table sugar goes through. For the mix, you could also leave the sweetener out entirely and add honey, agave juice or anything wet or dry as your sweetener after the fact.