Perfect to beat the summer heat, this copycat Starbucks Iced Chai Tea Latte tastes amazing and can be made with homemade or store-bought chai concentrate.
Why make this recipe
I love iced chai latte and find it to be the perfect treat for a hot home office day. The spices combined with milk make a smooth and flavorful drink. The black tea has just enough caffeine to end my morning coffee cravings.
I have tried some chai concentrates, and while I’ve found some great options, some have a bit of an artificial aftertaste that’s not very pleasing.
Homemade versions are always delicious:
- Don’t like one of the spices? Leave it out!
- Wanna make it skinny? Add your favorite sweetener!
- Best part: it’s way cheaper than buying.
I’m keeping this recipe as simple as possible, so everyone can make it with little effort and still get a delicious outcome.
What’s a chai latte?
Chai latte is a blend of black tea and spices mixed with milk. Super simple, right?
It can be made both hot (with frothed milk and no ice) and cold (with every ingredient super cold and lots of ice, like the one you’re about to make).
Chai actually means tea, so calling it chai tea latte is funny, as you’re literally saying tea tea latte. But that’s how the drink is known in most parts of America.
Yes, there’s caffeine in a chai latte, as black tea has caffeine.
Yes, you can. Just know that decaffeinated black tea still has a bit of caffeine left in them. The amount is very little, like 2 mg of caffeine per cup. But be aware of that if you are caffeine sensible or can’t consume any amount of it.
Is chai latte healthy?
I bet you have already heard that some spices are associated with health benefits.
Black tea can also be very good for you. The tea is rich in antioxidants and some studies say it can even lower blood pressure.
However, there are other ingredients that might not be as healthy.
Chai concentrates can be packed with sugar, and that’s one of the reasons I like to make it homemade. I can sweeten my homemade version with honey, maple syrup, or a sweetener for cane sugar-free options.
How many calories are in a chai latte?
In a chai latte, calories come from the milk and sweetener used. A grande Starbucks Chai Tea Latte (that’s 473 ml/16 oz) made with 2% milk has 240 calories.
If you’re trying to cut back some calories, replace milk for a plant-based milk. One cup of unsweetened almond milk has about 30 calories, while a cup of 2% milk has 124 calories.
Ingredients and substitutions
Milk. I like to use 2% milk, as it makes a smoother drink. But you can use any milk or plant-based milk. For a skinny version, use skimmed milk, or almond milk for a dairy-free beverage.
Ice. If possible, filter the water you’ll use for making ice. You can make ice with chai latte for a stronger/more flavorful drink.
Spices. You can leave out any spice you don’t like or are allergic to.
Honey. I use honey or apple vegan honey for my homemade chai concentrate. You can substitute honey for the same amount of maple syrup (it changes a bit the flavor), agave nectar (makes a slightly sweeter concentrate) or the sweetener you like for a skinny/low carb version.
If using a sweetener, add it only the amount needed when making the iced chai latte, instead of substituting for the same amount of honey when making the chai concentrate.
Black tea. You can make it with loose tea or tea bags. I usually make with tea bags as they are super practical and I always have some in my pantry. You can use decaf black tea for a version with very little caffeine.
How Starbucks makes Iced Chai Latte
There are 3 ingredients in a Starbucks Iced Chai Latte:
- Chai concentrate,
- 2% milk; and
They fill about ⅓ of the cup (4 pumps) with chai concentrate, then pour a cup of milk and fill the rest with ice.
Now, if you try to copy this, with most chai concentrates you’ll get a very weak iced chai latte. Starbucks chai concentrate is not for sale, and most concentrates ask for a 1:1 concentrate to milk ratio.
Don’t try to copy the proportions above with 1:1 store-bought or this homemade chai concentrate.
Starbucks also uses triple filtered water for theirs, but I doubt everyone can triple filter their water (I can’t). If you can, use filtered water for making ice.
Don’t have a filter? Boil the water for 5 minutes and wait for it to cool, or leave a jar with water sitting in the counter overnight. That gets rid of the chlorine and makes a better-tasting ice.
How to make it
Let’s start by making the chai concentrate:
Pour the amount of water into a saucepan and add the spices. I usually add the tea bags straight away and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Then I leave it for 5 minutes simmering and remove the tea bags.
But if you’re worried about getting a bitter taste, you can bring the water and spices to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes and add the tea bags when the concentrate is already out of the heat. Then, steep for 5 minutes and remove the tea bags (or tea leaves if using loose black tea).
Strain the concentrate, then add vanilla extract and honey. Stir until honey dissolves into the chai mixture.
Wait for the concentrate to cool and store it in your refrigerator, in a jar with a lid.
For the Iced Chai Tea Latte:
- Fill a glass with ice;
- Pour chai concentrate until it fills half the cup;
- Complete with milk of choice;
- Stir and serve right away.
By using this formula, you can make it any size you want!
Can I skip the spices and make it with chai tea bags?
You can make a chai concentrate using chai tea bags. Steep chai tea bags into hot water for 5 minutes. Remove bags and add vanilla syrup and honey.
Be aware that by using this hack you’ll lose some flavor and it will be less aromatic.
Tips for getting the best iced chai latte
Use whole spices for a more flavorful chai concentrate. Whole spices are more aromatic and make a better concentrate.
Ground nutmeg is easier to work with. The exemption of the tip above is nutmeg: prefer its ground version.
Use filtered water for making ice cubes. Filtered water without chlorine tastes better and makes your drink even more delicious.
Make Chai Concentrate ice cubes. That’s great if you’re a slow drinker like me. It’s more work, though, but the result you’ll get makes up for it.
More tea lattes to try
Starbucks Iced Chai Tea Latte Recipe
- 3 cups water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 10 cardamom pods
- 10 cloves
- 2 star anise
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger or ½ tablespoon fresh grated ginger
- 6 black tea bags or 2 ½ tablespoon of loose black tea
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoon honey
Iced Chai Tea Latte
- 1 cup chai concentrate
- 1 cup milk
For the homemade Chai Concentrate:
- Pour the amount of water into a saucepan. Add the spices: cardamom pods, cinnamon, ground nutmeg, cloves, star anise and ginger.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then simmer for 5 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and add the tea bags or loose tea to the mixture, and steep for 5 minutes.
- Remove the tea bags and strain the concentrate. Add vanilla extract and honey. Stir until honey dissolves into the chai mixture.
- Wait for the concentrate to cool and store it in a jar with a lid, inside the refrigerator.
For making Iced Chai Tea Latte:
- Fill a tall glass with ice.
- Pour 1 cup of chai concentrate. Complete with 1 cup of milk.
- Stir and serve right away.
You can substitute honey for the same amount of maple syrup (it changes a bit the flavor), agave nectar (makes a slightly sweeter concentrate) or the sweetener you like for a skinny/low carb version. If using a sweetener, add it only the amount needed when making the iced chai latte, instead of substituting for the same amount of honey when making the chai concentrate. You can use decaf black tea for a version with very little caffeine.