I tested out 10 brands of teas to find out which is the BEST organic chai tea!
There are so many organic chai options on the market these days, which is awesome!
But with all those choices, it’s harder to decide which one to spend your hard earned cash on.
So I set out to test out 10 organic chai tea options so I can recommend some really good ones to y’all.
What is Chai?
Indian chai tea is a bit different from American chai tea, as I’ll discuss below and a bit more at the end of this post.
In the United States, chai means a mix of aromatic spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, anise, ginger, and black peppercorns. It’s a perfect blend of flavors that makes your taste buds sing!
It’s usually mixed with black tea, but it can also be paired with different types of tea including green tea, white tea, or even herbal teas such as rooibos (a plant that’s native to South Africa).
For this review, I tested chai teas that were made with black tea.
A Word About Chai Grammar…
Now let me say from the get-go, I know that chai means tea so saying chai tea is redundant.
Also, the proper way to refer to these teas is masala chai, because masala comes from the Hindi word that means approximately “spice” or “mixed spices.”
However, in America chai has come to mean a spice blend including cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, etc., so saying chai tea is not redundant. And sometimes that feels more natural to say.
So please forgive my bad grammar throughout this post.
Okay, on to the review of these organic chai teas!
How I Selected the Chai Brands:
I purchased 10 different organic chai tea brands from local stores, as well as online.
I made sure to choose organic teas, and ones that were either fair trade or direct trade.
How I Tested the Different Chai Brands:
Then, I tasted each of them. I brewed each one with the same amount of water for the same amount of time.
After taking a few sips of the brewed tea plain, I added ½ teaspoon of maple syrup and 2 tablespoons of cream and tasted it again.
I rated each based on spiciness, freshness, bitterness, and overall strength of flavor.
Note: Some links are affiliate. All opinions are my own. If you click a link and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. This has zero impact on the price you pay, and it helps Buttered Side Up out! Thank you!
In case you don’t want to read the full review, here’s how I ranked the brands.
I’m going to place the chai brands into 3 different tiers. I’ll go over each brand individually as well – the full review is below!
Upper Tier (AKA the best chai teas IMO):
Here’s my video review of these organic chai teas in case you consume information better that way. The written reviews are below!
Now first of all, the ones that weren’t my favorites. These aren’t necessarily bad, they just weren’t in the top tier for me. These aren’t in a particular order.
Tasting Notes: I would say that my least favorite of the chais I tried was this one from Justea. I love this brand’s mission, but the chai just tasted too medicinal for me, and the overall spiciness, brightness, and strength were low. But it has great customer reviews on Amazon, so perhaps it’s just my personal preference!
Packaging: The packaging is really cool though, and I like that it comes with a wooden scoop. Also this is a loose leaf chai blend, so that reduces packaging waste.
Certifications: Non-GMO verified. This chai is not certified organic, but it is organically grown without pesticides or chemicals. Some ingredients are Rainforest Alliance Certified. It is not certified Fair Trade, but they use fair trade practices, which you can read more about here.
Full List of Ingredients: Kenyan Black Tea*; All Spice; Cloves; Fennel; Cinnamon; Licorice Root; Rose Petals; Ginger and Black Pepper.; *Rainforest Alliance Certified
Price: This tea is around $15.99 if you buy it direct from the company, plus shipping. It’s a bit less than that on Amazon, plus free shipping for Prime members. It makes about 40 cups of tea, so that’s around 40 cents per serving.
Tasting Notes: Next, we have the Numi Golden Chai. Again, the problem I ran into with this one was that the flavor was too medicinal for me. But it had a medium level of spiciness.
Packaging: The wrapper for this one is plant-based, and the tea bags themselves are made from non-GMO manila hemp cellulose and are compostable.
Certifications: This chai is Non-GMO Project Verified, certified USDA organic, and is made with fair trade certified black tea. Also, Numi is a B Corp.
Here’s the list of organic ingredients: Fair Trade Certified Organic Assam Black Tea, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Ginger, Organic Green Cardamom, Organic Anise
Tasting Notes: Another chai that just wasn’t my favorite was from the brand Sips. I felt like the overall flavor of this tea was giving apple cider. It was actually spicier than some of the other teas, but I just didn’t care for the overall flavor as much.
Packaging: The packaging is 100% plastic free and Biodegradable. Their bags are made from a material that is commercially compostable.
Certifications: USDA Organic. Fair Trade Certified. Certified Kosher by KSA. FSC. This is actually a non-profit company, and, according to the Amazon listing, they give back 100% of all profits to support the humanitarian work of Grace Farms Foundation to end forced labor worldwide.
Here’s the list of ingredients: organic Assam tea, organic ginger, organic cinnamon, organic nutmeg, organic cloves, organic allspice, and natural flavor
Middle Tier: The Store Brands
Okay, those three were on the lower end for me. The next three were about tied for flavor in my book. These were the 3 store brands of masala chai that I tried out.
First we have the TAZO chai tea. Now, this one actually isn’t a store brand, but it’s in a similar price tier, so I’m including it here.
Tasting Notes: It had a bit of a medicinal flavor which I don’t prefer, and overall the flavor was a little dull. But it did have a nice general flavor, and it wasn’t overly bitter.
Packaging: TAZO isn’t super transparent about what their tea bags are made from. According to this response from a TAZO representative on Twitter, their bags are made from hemp and trace amounts of plastic, so they’re not plastic free. The box is made from 100% recycled content with 35% post-consumer content.
Certifications: Non GMO Project Verified. Usda Organic. Fair Trade Certified. 1% For the Planet. Rainforest Alliance.
Here’s the list of ingredients: Organic Black Teas*, Organic Ginger*, Organic Cinnamon*, Organic Black Pepper*, Organic Cardamom*, Organic Cloves*, Organic Star Anise
Price: You can purchase this tea for around $3.89 at Target, or little cheaper at Walmart. Or you can get if for a more affordable price per box on Amazon, but you have to purchase a pack of 6. I appreciate that this is so readily available in stores, and that the price point is good. It’s a great option if you don’t want to order online or spend a bunch of money.
2. Good and Gather Chai (from Target)
The next store brand chai was the one from Good and Gather, which is Target’s store brand.
Tasting Notes: Again, this wasn’t a bad flavor, but overall it wasn’t super strong. It was mild and had a sweet flavor, and the spice level was okay.
Packaging: The packaging is made from recycled material. However, Target does not state what the tea bags themselves are made from, so we can assume they contain plastic.
Certifications: USDA Organic. Fair Trade Certified. FSC.
Here’s the list of ingredients: Organic Black Tea, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Cardamom, Organic Orange Peel. Organic Ginger, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Nutmeg, Organic Clove. 38% Fair Trade Certified Ingredients
Price: The price point is excellent at about $2.50 for a box of 20 tea bags. It’s only available at Target, of course.
And finally for the store brands, I tried the Thrive market chai. This one was the most bitter of the store brands, but it was actually my favorite of the 3.
Tasting Notes: A predominant flavor note for me was licorice, and it had medium levels of spiciness, freshness, and overall strength.
Packaging: The box is recyclable, and the tea bags are chlorine and BPA free. The bags are wrapped in a biodegradable cellophane, but Thrive doesn’t state what the bags themselves are made from.
Certifications: USDA Organic. Fair Trade Certified.
Here’s the list of ingredients: Organic Black Tea*, Organic Ginger, Organic Cardamom, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Clove, Organic Star Anise. *Fair Trade Certified by Fair Trade USA
Price: This chai tea is $3.99 for 20 tea bags (20 cents per serving), and it’s only available on Thrive.
Finally, we have the best chai brands (in my personal opinion).
1. Equal Exchange:
First up on the Upper Tier list is this chai from Equal Exchange. It’s a good balance of lovely flavor and affordable pricing.
Tasting Notes: What I liked about this one was that it had a stronger tea flavor than the other masala chai teas. It was more bitter than some of the other chai teas that I tried, but I’m personally okay with a little bitterness if in exchange for a stronger tea flavor.
Packaging: According to the Equal Exchange website: “Tea bags are unbleached abaca with organic cotton strings and tags made from paper printed with vegetable-based ink. Tea envelopes are paper lined with plastic. Tea boxes are paperboard.”
Certifications: USDA Organic. Equal Exchange is certified fair trade through Fair Trade USA, but they take it a step further with what they call “Authentic Fair Trade.” You can read more about their production standards on their website.
Full Ingredient List: Organic Black Tea Leaves, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Cardamon (sic), Organic Ginger, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Cloves
Okay, next we have one that’s been a favorite of mine for a while: The Rishi Masala Chai. This is a nice, spicy tea.
Tasting Notes: I felt this one was more cinnamon forward than some of the other teas, and had almost a gingerbready flavor. I also felt that it had a good amount of brightness and freshness.
Packaging: According to the Rishi website: “Rishi tea bags are made from a plant-based material called polylactic acid. They’re commercially biodegradable…PLA is NOT derived from petroleum and will not leak harmful plasticizers into your brew…PLA tea bags are designed to biodegrade in a high heat, commercial quality composting systems.”
Certifications: USDA Organic. Certified Kosher. This tea isn’t certified fair trade, but Rishi manufactures with fair trade principles. You can read more about their Direct Trade practices on their website.
Full Ingredient List: Organic black tea, organic ginger root, organic cinnamon, organic cardamom, organic black pepper, organic cloves.
Price: This masala chai blend costs $11 when bought directly from Rishi. You can also buy a loose leaf tea version. Or you can find the tea bags at Target for $7.99 for 15 sachets. You can also get it in a 2-pack on Amazon for around $15. So it’s around 53 cents per serving.
Okay, then we have this one from the brand Hanuman. This one was intriguing to me because it contains different spices, such as saffron.
Tasting Notes: I would say that the flavor is clove-forward. It’s a pretty smooth chai, if that makes sense, but the overall flavor didn’t seem quite as strong as the other upper tier chai teas. But it is a nice overall flavor.
Packaging: The tea bags are compostable, but they come in a resealable plastic baggie.
Certifications: USDA Organic. This chai isn’t certified organic, but the company states that they use fair trade ingredients.
Full Ingredient List: Organic Assam Tea and Ayurvedic & Organic Energizing Blend Karha: Ginger, Cardamom, Cloves, Cinnamon, Turmeric, Black Pepper, Javitri, Saffron, Tulsi, Amla
Price: When purchased directly through Hanuman, this tea costs $15.49 plus shipping. Or you can find it for around $19.49 on Amazon. So this one is definitely the most expensive at about $1.95 per serving, but they do appear to use quality ingredients. You can also purchase a version of this where the tea and spices are separate.
Finally, we have a masala chai that really surprised me. It’s from the brand Friendship Tea, and it’s actually a decaf chai.
Tasting Notes: In spite of being a decaf tea, this one had one of the strongest flavors. I really liked the overall flavor profile. I would say that it’s clove/licorice forward. It just makes an excellent cup of tea in my opinion, and has those classic chai flavors that I love.
Packaging: The tea bags are plastic-free and made from abacá fibre. They sachets are not individually wrapped to reduce packaging waste, and come in a plastic-free cellophane pouch. The tin that the tea comes in is made in the USA, and is of course recyclable where facilities exist.
Certifications: USDA Organic. Fair Trade Certified. Kosher.
Full list of ingredients: Fair Trade and organic decaffeinated black tea, Fair Trade and organic ginger, organic cinnamon, organic cardamom, organic clove.
Price: As far as I can tell, this tea is only available on Amazon. It’s about $11.52 for 20 sachets, so about 58 cents per serving. You can also purchase them in bulk for a better price.
Final Recommendations (Buying Guide):
Now if you’re looking for a really affordable chai that has really decent flavor, than you could go for any of the store brands. They aren’t as…shall I say special? As some of these other brands, but they’re still a nice masala chai.
If you want to experience more complex chai flavors, you can opt for one of the brands from the Upper Tier.
What’s unique about their tea is that it’s instant: you just mix it with hot water and stir! Think of it kind of like the match of chai tea.
Which one will I be repurchasing? After I drink up/gift all this chai (😅) I’ll probably be repurchasing the Friendship Organics Decaf Chai.
How to Brew a Cup of Masala Chai:
You should follow the directions that come with your chai, but here is the general process that I usually follow. This is not traditional masala chai (more on that below).
- Place your masala chai tea bag into your favorite mug.
- Boil 8-10 fl oz of water.
- Pour the hot water over the tea bag in the mug. Cover with a plate, and steep for 5-10 minutes.
- Sweeten to taste with brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc.
The tea will be more bitter if you brew it longer, but it will obviously be and stronger brew and hence more flavorful.
Another way to brew chai, which is actually more traditional, is to boil it in milk instead of water.
How to Make Chai Iced Tea:
Brew the same as above, but add ice cubes to fill your cup.
You could also brew with 6 ounces of hot water, then top it off with cold water to help the tea to cool down faster.
Recipes that Feature Chai:
Make sure to check out these recipes that contain those lovely chai spices!
- Chai Latte (Starbucks Copycat)
- Iced Chai Latte (including instructions for homemade chai tea concentrate)
- Dirty Chai Latte
- Chai Gingerbread Bars
- Dirty Chai Pancakes