Chai latte is becoming increasingly popular here in the UK. We are a proudly diverse nation of foodies – with a plethora of yummy cuisines from all over the world adopted as national favourites.
Increased demand is encouraging coffee shops and restaurants to add chai latte – also known as spiced chai latte, masala chai latte and ‘chai tea latte’ – (incorrectly, more on that later) – to their menus. But sadly the trend has started off with a market dominated by watered-down imitations of the real deal – which have actually put many people off this delicious, wholesome (and profitable) beverage.
Beautifully authentic, barista-friendly chai latte
Our mission with Aura Chai was to fill the huge gap in the market for a real chai latte blend made the proper way, with the right ingredients, for full-on flavour. We set out to end the misery for chai latte lovers and make an authentic, barista-friendly, affordable, healthy blend available to all. Easy to make and serve. Cost-effective. Made with whole, high quality ingredients blended in small batches. But to understand what makes us unique and sets us part from the powdered and syrup-based blends (and why that’s important), we need to run through some basics.
What is chai latte?
Most people think of ‘chai latte’ as a sweet, milky drink that features warming spices – mostly cinnamon and ginger. They’re familiar with it because they have tried it at a big coffee chain, where it is made with a powder mix.
But chai buffs will tell you that a powdered chai latte can never match up to the real thing. These powdered mixes vary from brand to brand, but they are essentially all very similar. There are even some ‘premium products’ that claim to be better than the rest (with a price tag to match) – but they are still predominantly sugar or sweetener, mixed with a handful of powdered spices. Matcha, turmeric and chocolate blends all come powdered as standard…so what’s wrong with a chai latte powder? Surely it tastes the same?
‘Chai’ means tea in Hindi – the native tongue in India, where masala chai is the national drink. ‘Masala’ refers to the mixed spices muddled with the tea – and since it’s made to be milky, ‘latte’ has been lovingly added in the West. When most people think of ‘chai latte’ they associate the term with the spices – but actually, ‘chai latte’ means ‘tea latte’. And powdered blends don’t contain any tea whatsoever.
The flavour is also incorrect – something chai latte lovers can spot a mile off. In India the tea is often served sickly sweet – but the sweetness is perfectly complemented by the depth of the accompanying spices. There are many different, bold spices in a traditional chai latte, each with their own flavour to impart. Cinnamon is one of them…but it isn’t the only one. The level of spices pales into insignificance in powdered blends because there is far too much sugar (necessary to assimilate throughout the mix), and not nearly enough spice, or the right kind of spices.
Sadly this pale imitation of the real deal is becoming the norm in the UK, with many indepdnenr coffee shops (often inadvertently) adopting the big chain mentality and serving powdered chai latte instead of an authentic blend.
Why is ‘chai latte’ in the UK inauthentic/poor quality?
Most independent coffee shops pride themselves on not being like the big chains…so why do so many still serve inauthentic, not so tasty chai lattes? Aura Chai founder Rose explains; “The main barrier to independent coffee shop owners and restauranteurs is lack of availability. They aren’t aware of what’s out there and think a powder is the only option, or aren’t familiar with chai latte, therefore can’t identify what constitutes a good blend.” Misconceptions also play a role: “Those who do know the value of a good chai latte blend tend to think it will be very expensive or difficult to make – but I made sure when developing Aura Chai that this wouldn’t be the case.” The best comparison we can make is between coffee and chai latte. “I say to people, if you wouldn’t serve freeze-dried, supermarket coffee to your customers, then don’t serve them a powdered chai latte. It’s absolutely the same thing. If you’re sourcing a beautiful coffee from independent roasters, choose a chai to match.”
A wonderful addition to your menu
Spiced chai latte when done properly is a lovely way to differentiate yourself from big brands and even other independents. “Before I started Aura Chai I’d often have to walk out of a coffee shop empty handed and disappointed, because they only served powdered chai latte. Since setting up Aura Chai, I’ve learned I’m not the only one! It’s so wonderful to see how many places are becoming a destination for chai latte and making a great profit from it.” It’s also very Instagram-friendly – which makes for great publicity and plenty of positive reviews. We even have coffee shops and restaurants on our books who sell almost as much chai latte as they do coffee! It’s really easy to make and serve – if you don’t believe us, check out the video below!
Our chai latte blends are vegan, sugar free and earth-friendly. They’re versatile enough for use in cocktails and desserts, too. To find out more or request a sample please contact us.