Chai Latte: Does This Delightful Brew Secretly Contain Caffeine?

6 min read AUG 12, 2023

The savory taste of delectable spices keeps you hooked. The warm texture of steamed milk is oh-so comforting. And the unmistakable taste of aromatic blends keeps you craving for more. There’s a lot to love about chai lattes. But is your favorite brew laced with a jolt of caffeine?

Today, we’ll get into exciting details on what ‘chai’ means, what makes chai latte pop, and whether this tasty beverage secretly carries caffeine.

Let’s dive right in!

What is Chai, Anyway?

Chai is a warm and flavorful beverage that combines milk, sugar, and herbal flavors to create a refreshing hot beverage. It’s sweet, aromatic, and a staple for many South Asian cultures.

Starbucks introduced this drink in the United States during the 90s, popularizing it for mainstream consumption. Since then, it has taken on many recipes. Today, it’s easy to find variations of ‘chai’ beverages riddled on the menus of cafes that brew exotic beverages and unique coffee blends.

The combination of spices and blended flavors may change depending on the vendor or cafe. But you can expect a clear and distinct taste in every cup.

The Famed Masala Chai Tea

The masala chai tea we see in the US is simply a flavored tea that coffee shops offer as a unique beverage on their menu. The name is a nod to its cultural heritage in India.

In fact, ‘Chai’ is originally the Hindi word for ‘Tea.’ So, calling it ‘Chai tea’ is a mere repetition of the name in two languages. However, it’s understandable that coffee chains use both terms to indicate the exotic nature while still getting through to buyers.

‘Masala,’ on the other hand, is the Hindi name for ground spice. So, any drink that contains these seemingly oriental spices can aptly include ‘Masala’ in its name. As you can probably guess, the drink is simply called ‘Masala Chai’ (Spiced Tea) in India.

The British found black tea leaves in Assam, India, where locals found various uses for it, including as herbal medicine. Using the leaves in a hot beverage soon gained popularity and spread across the rest of British India and subsequently to Europe.

Tea soon became a mainstream beverage in India and adopted a variety of recipes. Many of these recipes included aromatic herbs and powders that added a distinct flavor.

Regardless of the choice of spices, whole milk is always an essential ingredient. Whole milk’s creamy texture is what makes tea much more enjoyable to many.

Chai and Caffeine

Tea lovers often enjoy a warm cup to boost energy and tide them over before the next meal. Black tea leaves also have antioxidant properties; many believe in the herb’s ability to stimulate and lift your mood.

Given this potency, you may wonder if chai often comes laced with some caffeine that makes it addictive and keeps you hooked.

To clear the air, chai does not contain considerable caffeine. And it’s nowhere close to coffee-based beverages that rely on caffeine as the driving ingredient.

A normal cup of chai may include about 30-40 mg of caffeine. But this amount is negligible, and not nearly enough to cause the unpleasant effects of caffeine we try to avoid.

For comparison, a regular cup of coffee will put over 100 mg of caffeine in your body. Imagine how many additional cups of chai you must drink just to match that amount.

The main reason is that chai uses black tea leaves as the primary ingredient, not coffee beans or similar extracts.

How is Chai Latte Different?

Chai latte is a beverage you’ve probably seen on many menus and boards across your city.

So, what makes it different from regular chai or caffeinated drinks?

‘Latte’ is the Italian word for ‘steamed milk.’ So, chai latte simply means tea which includes steamed milk as part of the mixture. Similarly, the caffe latte written on the board of your favorite cafe also means coffee with steamed milk.

Blended with the right spices, a chai latte can serve as an aromatic and refreshing drink that you can sip and dip your favorite cookies in.

Does Chai Latte Contain Caffeine?

Chai lattes are not considered caffeinated drinks. That’s because the core ingredient is still the black tea leaves.

However, many cafes and coffee chains use concentrates that include caffeine as part of the ingredients. So, there’s a good chance your chai latte has some caffeine.

Once again, the quantity of caffeine here remains insignificant compared to normal coffee orders. You can expect 50-60 mg of caffeine in chai lattes, depending on the concentrates your barista uses. That’s still a far cry from the 100 - 125 mg dose of caffeine you get from the average cup of coffee.

Compare this figure to the 170 - 180 mg of caffeine in a medium cappuccino. The difference is stark, and the chai latte is a world apart in terms of caffeine content.

The Dirty Chai Latte: A Supercharged Brew

Coffee lovers who want the same punch in your chai latte can add a dirty twist to your regular milked tea.

Ask for a shot of espresso in your chai latte and experience the delight of a pumped-up chai latte.

Thanks to the potent espresso shot, your chai latte will sport an unmistakable dark color. And many people love the unique taste of aromatic tea blended with coffee’s sour flavors.

Should I Worry About The Caffeine in a Dirty Chai Latte?

Your dirty chai latte will contain a much higher caffeine concentration than regular chai (tea) or an ordinary chai latte.

The chai already comes with about 40 mg of caffeine. The steamed milk, concentrates, and additional ingredients will add another 100 mg of caffeine to the beverage. Add the 63 mg of caffeine from a regular espresso, and you have a considerable amount of caffeine entering your system.

The taste remains distinct. And the kick is more than any ordinary cup of coffee or chai latte will every match.


Is a chai latte considered a caffeinated drink?

No. Chai lattes are richer versions of regular tea but do not contain enough caffeine to count as caffeinated drinks.

Why is ‘chai tea’ considered a repetitive name?

‘Chai’ is the Hindi word for tea and the accepted name for the beverage in the Indian subcontinent. So, calling the drink ‘chai tea’ is the same as saying ‘tea tea.’

It’s the same pet peeve a Spanish-speaking person might have towards LA’s baseball team’s name (The Los Angeles Angels).

Does chai always contain spices?

In its origin country, Chai comes with black tea leaves, whole milk, and sugar to taste. By default, spices aren’t part of the recipe.

However, it’s common to add tinges of cinnamon, cardamom, or cloves for added flavor. And most cafes in India would call this ‘Masala chai’ (spiced tea).

How much caffeine does a regular chai latte have?

An ordinary cup of chai latte should contain no more than 30 - 40 mg of caffeine. And that too from the choice of concentrates the cafe uses. But most cafes and restaurants include the ingredients of their beverages. So, finding a chai latte with the appropriate level of caffeine is relatively easy.

Check out Lifeboost Coffee Espresso.

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