Everything You Need to Know about Chai Tea Latte
Chai tea lattes are decades old with a rich and fascinating history, but their variant, the dirty chai tea latte, is a recent culinary wonder. Chai tea lattes are made from a masala tea base. Masala tea is also known as black tea that has been mixed with several aromatic spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and many others.
This spiced and hearty tea is added to steamed milk to give the drink creaminess and texture. The secret ingredient in dirty chai tea lattes are their espresso shots. Dirty chai tea lattes contain at least one shot of espresso.
The espresso of a dirty chai tea latte adds a whole new flavor profile to this sensational drink. It is warm and inviting while tasting rich and delicious. Its strong coffee flavor mingles perfectly with the spices.
Read on to find out more about dirty chai tea lattes, their history, and how they are made!
What is a Dirty Chai Latte?
When people talk about chai tea lattes, they are usually referring to a specific spiced milk tea. Chai is a term that directly translates to “tea” in many parts of the word so calling a drink “chai tea” is redundant.
The tea blend that is most commonly referred to when people use the term “chai tea” is masala tea. Masala tea is a spiced black tea blend filled with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cardamom.
Although these 5 spices are the most commonly used and often viewed as staples of chai tea, many other spices are included in other variations of masala tea. These can include peppercorns, cloves, and black pepper.
You will almost always get a new blend of these spices each time you order a chai tea latte because each coffee house is unique. Chai tea lattes are not all about the spices, however.
A chai tea latte combines the spiced flavors of masala black tea with the creamy sweetness of steamed milk. This combination of ingredients tastes like all the best parts of the holidays at any time of the year.
At most coffee houses, baristas use concentrated masala tea which is diluted with creamy steamed milk to create an intensely strong-flavored beverage. Although using a concentrated formula is most common, chai tea lattes can be brewed by using black tea bags and adding various spices.
These are usually brewed in a small amount of water that is then mixed into the steamed milk. They can also be brewed directly into the milk itself. Brewing tea into a milk can be tricky because milk does not absorb the flavors of the tea-like water does, but this brewing method creates a much richer tasting tea.
A dirty chai tea latte takes this amazing blend a step further by adding a caffeine boost. Dirty chai tea lattes include a shot of espresso to give the spiced drink a fuller and richer taste. Chai tea is made with masala tea, which typically contains some caffeine.
Although the drink already contains some caffeine, it is a lot less caffeine than a regular cup of coffee has. Many people like to add a shot or two of espresso for a midday energy boost. Dirty chai tea lattes are much sweeter than other espresso drinks because of the addition of spices.
The masala tea helps to balance out espresso’s bittersweet nature and add a new dimension to the drink. The addition of espresso to the chai tea latte provides even more flavor. It is a deliciously warm drink that can be made any time of the day.
History of Dirty Chai Tea Latte
Although black tea is ancient, masala tea as we know and love it today began circulation in 1835 when the British began black tea farms in India. Milk and spices were often added to the original black tea because black tea was an extremely expensive ingredient.
The milk and spices would keep costs low while still allowing the tea to be flavorful and spiced. The combination of these ingredients was incredibly popular and has stayed the same even though black tea prices are no longer exorbitant.
Chai tea lattes that are sold in modern coffee houses taste very different from the chai tea lattes sold in India. Especially American coffee houses. The original Indian version of chai tea lattes are not just spiced, they are spicy. Traditional chai tea lattes are almost bitter and have very little sweeteners, if any, added to them.
The spice levels of chai tea lattes may have been caused by how the drink was viewed in the past. Historically, India viewed chai tea as a medicinal drink instead of a recreational caffeinated beverage.
Chai tea latte’s health benefits are partly true. This drink contains many spices known to reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. Chai tea lattes are known for lessening the symptoms of colds and sore throats among other ailments.
Dirty chai tea lattes are said to have been created by accident. The story goes that an American traveler in London ordered a chai tea latte. The barista accidentally added an espresso shot to the drink.
The traveler agreed to try the drink anyway and found that it was delicious. Soon after it was introduced to the menu, dirty chai tea lattes gained popularity and found their way to nearly every part of the world.
Five Facts about Dirty Chai Tea Lattes
- September 21 is National Chai Tea Latte Day.
- “Chai” was a Chinese term for tea.
- Dirty chai tea lattes were created by accident but were so delicious they quickly became popular.
- Dirty chai tea lattes contain more caffeine than a cup of coffee.
- Chai tea was originally used for its medicinal benefits
How to Make Dirty Chai Latte
Dirty chai tea lattes are just chai tea lattes that have one or more espresso shots. Chai tea lattes are created by adding steamed milk to chai tea, which consists of a black tea base and multiple aromatic spices.
The combination of the rich espresso, creamy steamed milk, and flavorful spices create a well-blended beverage perfect for any ailment, physical or emotional. Dirty chai tea lattes are delicious and provide just the needed energy boost during the weekday.
- Conical burr grinder
- Espresso machine
- Steam wand
- Metal steaming pitcher
- Tea strainer
- Medium saucepot
- Coffee cup
- 10 g espresso roast beans, whole
- 12 ounces whole milk
- 1 black tea bag
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Steps to make
- In a large saucepan, combine the water and spices and allow them to boil.
- Add the black tea bag and let it brew for 5 minutes.
- Remove the tea bag and strain the spices, letting the tea fall into the coffee cup. Stir in the sugar.
- Pour 10 ounces of whole milk in the metal steaming pitcher and place the tip of the steam wand close to but not touching the bottom of the pitcher.
- Turn on the steam wand and slowly lower the steaming pitcher until the top of the steam wand is close to but not breaking the surface of the milk. You should hear a ripping sound.
- Hold this position for 3 seconds before lowering the steam wand back into the bottom of the pitcher.
- Hold this position until the milk reaches 62 degrees Celsius.
- Pour the steamed milk into the cup with the tea and allow them to mix. Set aside.
- Use the conical burr grinder to finely grind 10 g espresso beans.
- Scoop them into the portafilter. Tap the portafilter on the counter to settle the grounds and use a tamping rod to pack them.
- Replace the tamping rod on the espresso machine and brew a single shot of espresso according to the espresso machine’s instructions.
- Pour the espresso shot into the chai tea latte to create a dirty chai tea latte and serve hot.
Every masala tea recipe is slightly different. Chai tea blends vary and can include all the above spices in different ratios, only some of the above spices, or can even add more spices. This is all up to personal preference.
For a more spiced dirty chai tea latte, try adding ¼ teaspoon of peppercorn to the mix. Cardamom and black pepper are also commonly added to masala tea blends. Half the fun of dirty chai tea lattes is experimentation.
For an extra special-looking dirty chai tea latte, try adding a dash of cinnamon on top of the milk foam. The dark ground cinnamon beautifully contrasts the whiteness of the milk foam, hinting at the beautiful blend of flavors of this latte.
One of the most common variations of the dirty chai tea latte is a special caffeine-loaded drink called the filthy chai tea latte. The filthy chai tea latte includes two shots of espresso instead of one shot. This is also commonly referred to as a doppio.
The filthy chai tea latte can be made by using 18 g of espresso beans instead of 10 g. When brewing the espresso, select the doppio option if your espresso machine has this. If it does not, brew two single shots and divide the espresso grounds equally between them.
This delicious espresso drink tastes amazing both hot and iced. While chai tea lattes are traditionally served hot, iced espresso drinks have gained a lot of popularity in the last 10 years. The biggest difference between a hot and iced dirty chai latte is the milk.
The milk of a hot dirty chai tea latte is steamed, which gives it more texture. The milk of a cold dirty chai tea latte is not steamed and is usually just added to the drink. If the milk was steamed, it would make the whole drink hot.
Iced dirty chai tea lattes are a delicious way to indulge in spiced espresso drinks during the summer months. They are sweet, spicy, and very caffeinated.
Dirty chai tea lattes are a relatively new drink but that doesn’t detract from their insane popularity and addicting flavor profile. Chai tea lattes have been around much longer and have a history as rich as they taste.
The combination of ancient black tea, aromatic spices, creamy milk, and rich espresso take this beverage to the next level. Dirty chai tea lattes are a step above regular chai tea lattes. They contain much more caffeine and have an added depth of flavor.
Dirty chai tea lattes are deliciously creamy and are jam-packed with both caffeination and flavor. It is easy to see why they are such a popular drink order. Both hot and iced, this addicting drink is a truly decadent delight.
About the Author
Twigs cafe staff is comprised of editors, writers, food & drink experts, nutritionists, and researchers to create informative and helpful content for health-conscious people.