For those who are new to chai latte, or for chai latte lovers who want to make sure they’re getting the best quality product possible, finding authentic blends can be tricky. Luckily we’re on hand to sort the pale imitations from the real deals (so to speak) and clear things up for you!
What is an authentic chai latte blend?
First things first, what is an authentic chai latte blend? And what makes it authentic? Here are a few key characteristics of an authentic chai latte:
1/ It is made with a variety of whole spices (no less than five) – Lots of chai latte blends only contain a few spices – or very small amounts. You’ll find the most used are cinnamon and ginger followed by nutmeg and cardamom.
2/ It contains tea – You’d be surprised how many ‘chai latte’ blends don’t actually have any chai (tea) in them! Many contain ‘black tea extract’ or flavouring which isn’t really the same. You can usually spot the fakes because they are ‘caffeine free’, whilst blends with tea naturally contain a small amount of caffeine. Read more about this here.
3/ It has a high spice/tea ratio – Lots of blends look like the real deal – but you’ll find they produce a very weak latte because they are mostly made with tea. An authentic masala chai features a bold, fragrant bulk of spices at a high ratio.
4/ It doesn’t contain fillers or sweeteners – Chai latte in India is traditionally sweet – in ‘the old days’ it was lightly sweetened with raw honey or jaggery (raw sugar). Many modern ‘instant’ blends list sugar or sweetener as their first ingredient. Some are mostly made of fillers like Maltodextrin. Ew!
How to spot a real chai latte blend
Herbalists across Asia originally used masala chai as a medicinal tonic. They always intended it to be healthy – it was routinely given to sickly people as a source of energy and nourishment. Authentic blends mirror the characteristics of this early recipe.
So! How can you spot a real chai latte? Just look out for these four key ingredients…
They are never, ever in powder form
If you do a quick Google search for chai latte (which may be how you found us!) you’ll notice that most products available are in powder format. This is a shame, because it’s not how masala chai is supposed to be. It is meant to be made with whole spices, carefully selected and sometimes roasted lightly to bring out their flavour. The tea isn’t powdered, instead it is made from real leaf tea. Powdered blends really water down the true essence of chai latte, and can never be authentic.
They contain tea
This is a very simple one! If it doesn’t contain tea, it isn’t authentic. You want proper, black tea in the blend. ‘Chai’ means tea – so if it doesn’t have any tea in it, it technically can’t be called a ‘chai latte’! Some blends do contain ‘tea extract’ – this is better than no tea at all, but it is still not ideal.
They contain more than three spices
So what should you be looking for? You want a blend with at least the main spices. These are (in particular order), ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg. Our blends contain our unique recipe of nine spices for fragrant flavour, enhanced nourishment and authenticity.
They are made for milk
Nobody likes a weak chai latte. When it looks (and tastes) like dishwater, you know something is wrong! Unfortunately some spiced tea blends are marketed as chai latte. Mostly though people tend to get confused by the name – ‘spiced chai’, or ‘masala chai’, and automatically think it’s for milk. Don’t get us wrong, these blends make absolutely lovely cups of tea! They just aren’t quite strong enough for chai latte because really, they’re a different product entirely.