Dirty Chai Latte Recipe: Even Better Than Starbucks!
Coffee lovers and tea enthusiasts will put aside their differences in the glorious presence of a dirty chai latte. What’s in a dirty chai latte? It is the best of both worlds with an espresso base, concentrated tea body, hot frothed milk, and an aromatic blend of warm spices.
This dirty chai latte recipe will show you how to make one at home easily, and it’s way better than anything you’ll find at a chain coffee shop. Read on for the delicious deets on this hot drink.
What Is A Dirty Chai Latte?
A dirty chai is masala chai, or “spiced tea,” added to a traditional cafe latte recipe of espresso and frothy steamed milk. Masala chai originates from India and consists of black tea with milk, water, spices, and sugar. The terms chai and masala chai are often used interchangeably, but “chai” is actually just the word for tea in many languages. So avoid referring to this drink as a dirty chai tea latte to eliminate redundancy (1).
Dirty chai lattes are one of the best drinks to get at Starbucks, but personally, I find that any espresso drink tastes better if you make it for yourself at home. If you agree and want to keep satisfying your inner home barista, check out more delicious recipes like the Pumpkin Spice coffee recipe.
Ingredients – What’s in a dirty chai latte?
- 1-2 shots of espresso
- 1 cup of milk of choice
- 1-3 black tea bags or 1 cup of chai tea concentrate
- Chai spices for homemade chai concentrate
- Cardamom pods
- Black pepper
- Fennel seed
- Sweetener (optional)
- Ice (optional)
- Star anise spice garnish (optional)
- Other thing you’ll need:
- Milk frother
- Coffee Grinder
- Coffee brewer
At A Glance
Time Of Preparation:
Coffee Drink Yield:
Choosing the Best Tea
It is preferable to use high-quality tea. Assam tea is grown in Northeastern India and has a powerful aroma, malty mouthfeel, and health-promoting properties related to antioxidants, heart and brain health, and immune system function (2). Most grocery stores should have it.
How to Make A Dirty Chai Latte
We’ll take you through four simple steps en route to the best dirty chai latte.
1. Prepare The Brew
Pull one or two espresso shots with your espresso machine. If you don’t have an espresso machine, use a French Press with a higher ratio of coffee to water to brew an extra-strong coffee. You can also brew a strong coffee using an AeroPress or Moka Pot.
How Many Shots Of Espresso In A Dirty Chai?
A dirty chai latte has one shot of espresso. Adding a second espresso shot makes it a double dirty chai latte or a filthy chai latte. The names may be a tad uncomfortable to toss around the family dinner table, but the taste and extra kick of caffeine in this drink are worth it.
Pro Tip: If using a French Press, make double-brewed coffee. Double brewing involves pouring your freshly brewed French Press coffee over the same or new freshly ground coffee beans instead of using boiling water. Your coffee will be closer to the intensity of an espresso.
2. Brew The Concentrated Chai Tea
Brew one to three bags of black tea with boiling hot water from a stove top or a kettle. You can brew as you would typically for tea or let everything simmer on the stove to extract more flavor.
Add the following chai spices with your black tea: cinnamon, fresh ginger, ground cardamom pods, black pepper, nutmeg, clove, fennel seed, and/or peppercorn. Use pre-ground spices or grind whole spices like cinnamon sticks for extra freshness. But you don’t need all of these spices. Play around with what you have, and have fun!
You can up the spice factor by using prepared chai teabags with added natural ingredients like cinnamon, ginger root, allspice, cinnamon oil, clove bud oil, and cardamom oil, along with the black tea.
For a stronger chai concentrate, use more tea with less water. Otherwise, use fewer bags and a decaf option (3).
Pro Tip: For less hassle, use one cup of a store-bought premade chai concentrate instead. A good option is the Tazo Classic Chai Latte concentrate that features cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and black pepper for a spicy flavor (4).
3. Froth The Milk
Froth one cup of milk in a milk frother, or steam the milk using the steam wand of your espresso machine for a more traditional latte texture. For the best result, use 2% dairy milk.
To make this a vegan recipe, use a plant-based milk like oat milk, almond milk, coconut milk, or soy milk. Use a zero-sugar vanilla oat milk to make more of a dirty vanilla chai latte. Keep in mind that each milk froths differently and affects the taste in a unique way. Don’t use more than one cup of dairy-free milk, or your frother may overflow.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have a milk frother or espresso machine, you can froth milk manually using a French press. Add warmed milk to the French press and pump the plunger up and down to aerate it. You can do the same thing with cold milk for an iced dirty chai or when making an iced latte.
4. Combine Everything And Enjoy!
Pour one-half cup of the chai mixture into a large mug, followed by the shot of espresso or 2 ounces of strong coffee. Top it up with steamed milk froth, and voila! You’ve got yourself a hot dirty chai latte. Sweeten it to taste as needed, and top it off with a star anise spice garnish if you have one.
For an iced chai latte, pour everything over a glass filled with ice. It’s up to you if you prefer an iced dirty chai latte or one served hot.
Pro Tip: Why not try a dirty chai latte smoothie? If you have an immersion blender, combine your leftover chai concentrate, 1 or 2 tablespoons of instant espresso powder, a handful of ice cubes, and ½ cup of greek yogurt. Blend on high, serve immediately, and enjoy a fresh new spin on this dirty chai recipe! Just home from the gym? Toss in some protein powder for an extra energy boost. You can’t get this at your typical coffee shop.
Dirty chai lattes are popular drinks in coffee shops, but they’re both better and more affordable when enjoyed at home. You can customize your dirty chai latte to your taste if you have a milk frother, milk, espresso or strong coffee, black tea, and spices. Plus, it’s compatible with a variety of dietary restrictions, including dairy free, vegan, and gluten free.
Tell us if you try this out and what variations you’ve made as a recipe developer!
A dirty chai tea latte is called dirty due to the color change that happens when coffee is mixed with a chai concentrate. Adding coffee or a shot of espresso muddies up the hue of the tea, making it a gritty sight while being a sipping delight.
The difference between a dirty chai latte and a regular chai latte is that the former contains espresso whereas the latter does not. The espresso adds a bitter robustness to the drink’s taste, plus a lovely jolt of caffeine. Otherwise, the two drinks are prepared the same way. A chai latte is a concentrated tea brewed with a blend of spices and topped with hot frothed milk.
The caffeine in a homemade version of a dirty chai latte varies depending on the types and quantities of tea and coffee used. For reference, a regular “non dirty” chai Starbucks latte as a grande 16 fl. oz. size has 95 mg of caffeine (5). But if you add a doppio espresso to make it a dirty chai latte Starbucks-style, there’s a total of 245 mg of caffeine.
The amount of nutrition calories in a dirty chai latte depends on the kinds and amounts of milk, tea, and coffee used. Avoid using sweeteners to minimize the calorie count. For reference, a 16 ounce Grande chai latte from Starbucks has 240 calories. But if you add espresso to make it a dirty chai latte Starbucks-style, there’s a total of 250 calories. Swapping to skim milk has the most significant impact on calories.
A sticky chai latte is just like a regular chai latte but sweeter. The “sticky” in its name refers to the look and consistency of the sweetened drink. The only real difference is that a sticky chai latte includes honey, maple syrup, date syrup, or another similar liquid sweetener.
- Nunez, K. (2022, January 20). What Is Chai Masala? Here’s Everything You Need to Know About This Warming Spice Blend. Retrieved February 20, 2023, from https://www.marthastewart.com/8211267/chai-masala-spice-blend-explained
- Hill, A. (2020, August 13). What Is Assam Tea, and Does It Have Benefits? Retrieved February 20, 2023, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/assam-tea#_noHeaderPrefixedContent
- McDonald, J. (n.d.). How to Make a Tea Concentrate. Retrieved February 20, 2023, from https://www.plumdeluxe.com/blogs/blog/tea-concentrate
- Tazo. (n.d.). Classic Chai Latte. Retrieved February 20, 2023, from https://www.tazo.com/us/en/products/lattes-iced/classic-chai-latte/
- Starbucks. (n.d.). Chai Tea Latte. Retrieved February 20, 2023, from https://www.starbucks.com/menu/product/466/hot/nutrition