It is often promoted as a healthier alternative to coffee. But what is chai latte, and how could it replace your daily caffeine fix? Stick with us to find out more!
What is chai latte?
Chai latte is a hot, milky drink made with black tea and mixed spices including cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. It originated in India thousands of years ago and is kind of an institution there – a beverage of massive cultural significance. So not just a trendy go-to order at Starbucks that’s popular with the Kardashians – contrary to popular belief!
How is chai latte different to coffee?
Chai latte is waaay different to coffee. They’re totally different things. In fact, it’s easier to count the ways they’re similar:
- They’re both usually served hot (but can also be iced)
- They’re served with milk
- They contain caffeine (in varying amounts)
- They’re both served at Starbucks
That’s about it. Chai latte isn’t coffee, and it doesn’t contain coffee (unless it’s a dirty chai, but let’s not confuse things right now).
Caffeine Content of Chai Latte Vs Coffee
Lots of people turn to chai when they’re looking to cut down their coffee intake. Why? Because unlike cafe lattes made with coffee, chai latte is made with tea. This cuts the caffeine content by over 50%, significantly reducing the risk of jitters and caffeine ‘shock’ which can be unpleasant side effects of your regular cup o’ joe. A 120ml (4.5oz) cup of chai latte normally contains around 40mg caffeine, compared with a whopping 120mg caffeine for the same cup of coffee. This means you can enjoy a few more cups of chai for the same amount of caffeine in just one cup of coffee. (We’ve written a separate blog allll about caffeine in chai – head over here to read more.)
Health benefits of chai latte vs coffee
Chai latte (made in the traditional way) is a blend of black tea and mixed spices. Each of these spices have various health benefits, from antibacterial properties to anti-inflammatory abilities. The true origins of chai latte as we know it today were in fact as a health tonic or medicine, used by Ayurvedic doctors thousands of years ago to treat a variety of ailments including nausea and flu. Of course, without thorough testing and pharmaceutical investigation chai companies can’t make claims about the benefits attached to their products – they really are intended first and foremost to be a tasty treat, and won’t cure or treat any illness.
If you want to drink chai for its health benefits, be sure to stay away from ‘fake chai’ blends that come in powdered format. These chai blends rarely contain the full spectrum of spices you’d expect in a traditional brew – most don’t even contain any tea! The best way to spot an authentic chai blend is to check for tea, and a fairly long list of spices. It should be chunky and colourful, not a pale beige powder. (More on spotting authentic blends here)
While chai latte may not be able to cure any illnesses, what it can do is help you to cut down on your coffee intake.
Coffee is just, well, coffee. That’s not to say there aren’t benefits associated with drinking it. But in general the jury’s out on whether coffee is a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ thing. The general consensus is based on personal choice – only you know whether coffee ‘agrees’ with you or not, and everyone’s tolerance level is different. A little of what you fancy can’t hurt you – but overdosing on coffee on a daily basis has been linked with heightened levels of anxiety, and even heart problems.
Bottom line – chai latte vs coffee
Chai latte and coffee are totally different things. In lots of ways, they’re incomparable to one another. People often think they’re similar, because they’re used to drinking cafe lattes. But a latte can actually be many things – like matcha latte and beetroot latte. There are certain situations when chai might be better than coffee, though…
If you’re looking to cut down on your coffee intake, chai is a great place to start. That’s because it contains a lot less caffeine compared to coffee, so you can either completely replace your coffee with chai, or top up your daily hot drinks whilst keeping your caffeine intake static.
If you want a healthier alternative to coffee, chai wins hands down. It’s still comforting, tasty and hot, can be taken with or without sugar and can be made without milk or with low-fat creamer, if you’re cutting down.
If you really can’t decided between chai latte vs coffee, a dirty chai is the thing for you. Dirty chai latte is a hybrid of chai latte and coffee – simply brew up a tasty cup of chai, and pour in a shot of your favourite coffee!