Caffeine. It’s a bit like marmite – you either love it, or you hate it.
Some people thrive on it. You know, the ‘but first, coffee’ kinda people. The kind of people who can’t tolerate loud noises or any kind of simple task before they’ve had their morning cup of Joe. Then there’s the people who find being caffeinated a bit of a nightmare. Cue jitters, disrupted sleep, unwanted anxiety and even some unexpected toilet activity (the less said about that, the better!)
We all know that coffee normally contains high amounts of caffeine. But what about chai latte? It’s often a go-to alternative for coffee haters or the caffeine intolerant, but is it free from caffeine? Can chai latte be decaf? The short answer is YES – but you need to know where to look, and what to buy. Read on to find out!
Chai latte is traditionally made with tea
The first step to understanding the caffeine content in chai latte is knowing what chai latte is. If you don’t know already, ‘chai’ means ‘tea’ in Hindi (and some other languages, too). So a ‘chai latte’ = a ‘tea latte’. In the Western world when we say ‘chai latte’ (or the misnomer ‘chai tea latte’ – more on why that’s wrong here) we usually mean ‘masala chai’ – that sweet, spicy beverage native to India and South Asia, popularised by Starbucks and some celebrity fans (including Kim Kardashian – who cites Soy Chai Latte as one of her fave orders). When you know that chai latte contains tea, it follows that there is naturally some caffeine present. But all is not as it seems in the world of chai lattes…
BUT…not all chai latte blends actually contain tea
Our job here would be sooo simple if all chai latte blends were made to a traditional recipe. It’d be a simple ‘no’ to the ‘Can chai latte be decaf?’ question. But they’re not. In fact, most commercial chai latte blends, including those served up by the beloved big-chain coffee shops, do not contain tea. ‘Why?’ you wonder, since surely if it’s called a ‘tea latte’, there has to be some tea in it? Nope. You’ll find on closer inspection that the ingredients in commercial chai latte blends are a far cry from those you’d find in a traditional chai latte blends.
Firstly, they often come in powder format, which makes them super easy to make for the big-chain coffee shops. The first ingredient is usually sugar, or a blend of sugar and various artificial and natural sweeteners. Next, bulking agent – usually Maltodextrin. This is followed by preservative and a small selection of spices – usually cinnamon (the spice most commonly associated with masala chai), ginger, nutmeg and clove.
Of course, no tea = no caffeine. Great news for caffeine avoiders! But not such good news for fans of proper chai latte, or the health-conscious…
Good news for caffeine avoiders – bad news for chai lovers…
The GOOD news here is that if you love chai latte but want to avoid caffeine, there are some options for you. You can:
- Buy a cheap powdered/instant chai latte blend to drink at home
- Ask at the coffee shop ‘is this a powdered blend?’ to be sure it’s caffeine free
- Make a chai latte using a teabag (never a good idea, but it’s an option)
- Buy all the spices and make your own blend, sans tea
The trade-off with all these options is flavour and health benefits. They won’t taste as deliciously spicy as a traditional cup of chai – often powdered blends are overly sweet, with not enough spice. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, powdered blends have very high sugar content. If they’re not full of sugar, they’re full of artificial sweeteners. Most people want to try and avoid drinking their calories or prefer to opt for low-carb alternatives, especially if they are trying to lose weight. Many more are adopting a clean lifestyle, avoiding chemical additives like artificial sweeteners, preservatives and bulking agents. If this is you, the options above won’t be so great.
So the BAD news is that if you’re the health conscious type, want to avoid sugar or non-natural nasties, or you’re a lover of authentic, traditional chai latte, the caffeine element is always going to be there. Feeling fed up and totally defeated in your search for a decaf chai? Don’t worry!
Luckily we formulated our two gorgeous caffeine-free, healthy chai latte blends to help you out! These blends contain NO sugar, NO additives or preservatives and NO caffeine – but they’re big on flavour. You can choose between Organic Turmeric, and Organic Raw Cacao.
But if you’re still craving a delicious, traditionally brewed chai without caffeine, we have more good news…
How much caffeine is actually in a chai latte?
If you’re not super sensitive to caffeine, but want to cut down, chai latte is still a great alternative to coffee. Here’s why:
Average caffeine content of coffee = 40mg per 100ml.
Average caffeine content of black tea = 20mg per 100ml.
This does vary depending on the type of coffee or tea that you are drinking. But when it comes to proper chai latte, the actual tea content per tablespoon is around 50%, as the majority of the recipe is made up of delicious spices.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the longer you brew, the higher the caffeine content will be. So brewing for a shorter time could help to reduce the caffeine content of your chai.
Conclusion: Caffeine-free chai is totally possible! But if you’re not caffeine sensitive, chai latte is still a safe option
If you’re still here with us at the end of this article, you’ll now know that the question ‘Can chai latte be decaf?’ doesn’t have a straightforward answer. It all depends on why you’re asking the question. If you want to cut down on caffeine, chai latte is a great option, as it typically contains much lower amounts of caffeine compared with straight-up black tea and coffee. Use trial and error to test your tolerance level and sensitivity.
If you want to avoid caffeine altogether, there are plenty of options available – but you might find you have to trade off on flavour and health benefits. Or you can try our delicious caffeine-free blends here!