Learn how to recreate this delicious, popular drink at home with my Copycat Starbucks Chai Tea Latte recipe! The warming spices make the perfect drink for chilly fall or winter days!
I recently tried the Starbucks hot chai tea latte, and I was surprised by how spicy it was!
So I knew I wanted to figure out how to include that flavor in my homemade version. And I figured out the secret spice: ginger!
I’m going to include 2 options for y’all: one made with chai tea bags, and the other made with chai concentrate.
Okay, let me show you how to make it!
Here’s a video tutorial in case you learn better that way. The written tutorial is below!
What Does Chai Mean?
Okay, before we dive into how to make my Starbucks copycat recipe, let me talk about what chai actually is.
The word Chai is actually the Hindi word for tea, and it’s usually brewed with milk. So chai tea actually means “tea tea” and is a bit redundant. And chai tea latte means “tea tea latte.”
“Masala” is a romanization of a Hindi word that means approximately “spice” or “mixed spices.” So the technical term for spiced tea would be Masala Chai, and “Chai Tea” is a bit of a misnomer.
However, in America, “Chai” has come to mean a blend of spices (usually cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and peppercorns), mixed with some type of tea.
The word “tea” was probably added after chai because Americans wouldn’t know what it was, and manufacturers or coffee shop owners wanted to clarify for their customers what they were buying.
So I’ll be referring to it as chai, masala chai, or chai tea, but I am aware that not all of those names are proper!
Tea Bag Version:
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First, for the tea bag version, here’s everything you’ll need:
- 2 chai tea bags: If you’re looking for an affordable chai brand, Tazo, Good and Gather (Target), and Thrive Market all make decent chai tea bags for an affordable price. I really like this decaf chai from Friendship Teas, and the Rishi Masala Chai is also quite good. Different brands of chai contain different spices. Starbucks chai contains ground black peppercorns, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise, so you can look for masala chai that contains those spices for the most accurate recreation.
- 1/2 cup boiling water: I like to use a smaller amount of water so you don’t, well, water down the drink too much. Use filtered water if your tap water contains loads of chlorine.
- 2-6 teaspoons pure maple syrup or simple syrup: I like to use maple syrup to sweeten my chai latte because I almost always have it on hand, and it mixes into the drink really well. You could also use a simple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, brown sugar, etc.
- 3/4 cup whole milk: I like to use whole milk to ensure a creamy latte. I do not recommend using low-fat or fat-free milk. If you’re dairy free, you could experiment with using another kind of milk. My personal favorite non-dairy milk is oat milk. I don’t care for almond milk or coconut milk in lattes.
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger: Here’s where the magic comes in! To add that kick of heat, you’ll want to add some extra ginger to your latte. You can also add 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon or your personal favorite of the chai spices to boost the flavor even more.
- A few drops of vanilla extract: This is optional, but Starbucks chai concentrate contains vanilla, so you can add a few drops of vanilla extract to recreate that flavor profile. Or you could use a vanilla simple syrup to sweeten your latte.
How to Make the Starbucks Chai Tea Latte at Home:
Start by placing the 2 tea bags in a 12 ounce mug. This is the mug I use, and it’s actually 10 ounces.
Next, pour 1/2 cup of boiling water on top of the tea bags. Cover with a plate and allow to steep for 5 minutes.
After the 5 minutes, squeeze out the tea bags (yes, I realize that this is controversial) and remove to the plate.
Add your preferred sweetener.
I personally like to add pure maple syrup, but simple syrup, sugar, honey, or even a vanilla syrup would work as well.
The amount of sugar or maple syrup you use is up to you!
2 teaspoons is the amount of sweetness that I like, but feel free to increase to fit your personal tastes.
Now here’s where the magic happens!
First, pour the milk or half and half into your frothing pitcher.
Then add 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger to the milk in the pitcher.
You can also add 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon or your personal favorite chai spice to boost the flavors even more. Just don’t skip the ginger!
Froth the milk to your preferred temperature. I like around 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 degrees Celsius), but you may prefer a hotter latte.
If you don’t own a steam milk frother, you can still make some amazing frothed milk at home. I have a video that shows you 8 ways to froth milk if you don’t own an expresso machine.
You’ll need to first heat your milk over the stove in a small saucepan, and then froth it. I recommend heating it to 155 degrees Fahrenheit (68 degrees C) since it will cool down as you’re frothing it.
Now pour the frothed, gingery, hot milk over the brewed tea and sweetener in the mug.
And there you have a delicious spiced chai latte!
How to Make a Chai Latte with Chai Concentrate:
Now that you know how to make Starbucks’ chai latte with tea bags, let me show you how to do it with a premade chai concentrate!
- 1/2 cup chai black tea concentrate: I personally like the Rishi Masala Chai concentrate because Rishi has a direct trade model. Tazo chai concentrate is readily available in grocery stores, but it isn’t certified fair trade. Some other options for chai concentrate that I haven’t personally tried are Bhakti (they have an unsweetened version and they’re fair trade), Third Street Chai (they’re organic and fair trade), and Explorer Chai Concentrate (they’re organic and fair trade).
- 1 cup milk or half and half: Again, please use whole milk. I actually like to add a bit of cream to my chai latte as well, but they may be too rich for your tastes!
I like to make this by simply pouring the concentrate and milk into a frothing pitcher, and frothing away!
You’ll get better foam if you froth the milk separately. However, you’ll need to either heat up the chai on the stove, or steam it first, pour it into your mug, and then froth the milk.
If you don’t heat up the chai concentrate if it’s been sitting in the refrigerator, your drink will be too cold.
You don’t want to heat your milk over about 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees Celsius), otherwise it takes on a cooked egg flavor.
And if you don’t heat up the milk past that point, it will cool down too much when it hits the cold chai concentrate.
So it’s up to you to decide if you’d like the bother of heating up the concentrate separately or not!
How to Make an Iced Chai Latte:
Now in the warmer months, you may prefer an iced chai latte!
I have a whole post dedicated to how to make an iced chai latte. In that post I included a homemade chai tea concentrate recipe.
But you can also use either the tea bag or concentrate recipe outlined in this post, add some ice cubes, and use cold milk instead of steamed or heated milk.
Super simple and easy!
How to Make a Dirty Chai Latte:
Again, I have a post dedicated to making a delicious dirty chai tea latte at home.
But you could also just add a shot of espresso to this recipe to get a similar flavor.
So how much money will you really save by making this chai latte at home?
- A tall (12 ounce) chai tea latte from Starbucks will cost about $4.25, depending on where you’re located. Prices can vary around the world.
- My homemade chai latte made with tea bags that’s a bit under 12 ounces will set you back around $0.79 if you use a simple syrup to sweeten it, or about $1.13 if you use maple syrup. That’s a fraction of the cost of the Starbucks version!
- And my homemade version made with store-bought chai concentrate that’s about 12 ounces will cost you around $0.80 to $1.18, depending on which chai concentrate you use. I personally like the Rishi concentrate, but it is on the pricier side. However, you’ll still be saving money over Starbucks!
What is in a Starbucks Chai Tea Latte?
A Starbucks chai latte is made from milk, water, and a pre-sweetened chai tea concentrate. That’s right, they actually water down the chai concentrate when they make the drink! I asked a Starbucks employee how they make their chai latte, and he confirmed that they add water to the chai.
Here’s the full ingredient list for the Starbucks version:
Milk, Water, Chai Tea Concentrate [An infusion of (Water, Black Tea, Cardamom, Black Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon, Cloves, Natural Flavors, Star Anise), Sugar, Honey, Ginger Juice, Natural Flavors, Vanilla, Citric Acid]
How Much Sugar is in the Starbucks Chai Tea Latte?
A tall (12 ounce) chai tea latte from Starbucks contains 32 grams of sugar. Grande Starbucks chai tea lattes (16 ounces) contain 42 grams of sugar, and a Venti (20 ounces) contains 53 grams of sugar.
My homemade version that’s a bit under 12 ounces contains about 17 grams of sugar if it’s made with 2 teaspoons of maple syrup, and 21 grams if it’s made with 1 tablespoon of maple syrup.
And if you use the Rishi chai concentrate, a 12 ounce serving will contain around 28 grams of sugar.
More Starbucks Copycat Recipes:
- Dirty Chai Latte
- Bottled Starbucks Frappuccino
- Starbucks Peach Green Tea Lemonade
- Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino
- Cold Foam Sweet Cream Recipe
- Oat Milk Latte
- Starbucks Hot Matcha Green Tea Latte Recipe
- Pumpkin Cold Foam Recipe
- Homemade Mocha Latte
- Brown Sugar Oat Milk Shaken Espresso
More Chai Recipes:
For the Tea Bag Version:
- 2 chai tea bags
- ½ cup of boiling water
- ¾ cup of whole milk or half and half
- 1-6 teaspoons of maple syrup or simple syrup (or sweetener of choice)
- ⅛ to 1/4 teaspoon of ginger (see note)
- A few drops of vanilla extract (optional)
For the Concentrate Version:
- 1/2 cup chai concentrate (see note)
- 1 cup whole milk or half and half
For the Tea Bag Version:
- Place the tea bags in a 12 ounce mug. Pour the boiling water on top. Cover with a plate and allow to steep for 5 minutes. Sweeten to taste.
- Place the milk or half and half in a frothing pitcher. Add the ginger and any additional spices. Steam and froth to desired temperature (see note about frothing without a steam frother).
- Pour the frothed milk over the brewed tea and enjoy!
For the Concentrate Version:
- Place the chai concentrate and milk or half and half in a frothing pitcher. Froth to desired temperature. You can also heat the concentrate separately and froth the milk by itself for a thicker milk texture.
- Sweetener: You can use your personal favorite sweetener. I like 2 teaspoon of maple syrup, but you may prefer it less or more sweet.
- Additional Spices: You can also add 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon or your personal favorite chai spice to boost the flavor even more.
- Frothing without a Steam Frother: You can heat your milk over the stove, then froth it with a stick frother, hand pump frother, French press, etc.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 503Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 109mgCarbohydrates: 101gFiber: 0gSugar: 99gProtein: 7g