This flavorful, creamy iced chai latte recipe is the cup of chai I always wish I can order at Starbucks or any other coffee shop on a warm day but I’m always disappointed when I do.
You see, I grew up drinking chai and the versions sold in stores taste well, weak, and watery to me. There’s nothing wrong if you like those versions, but just know that this recipe does not look to emulate those.
This is recipe for:
➜This recipe is for others like me who want robust, real chai flavors to come through.
➜It’s also for those who started out with Starbucks Iced Chai and want to explore or try out a more flavorful version of chai drinks.
I know that taste is subjective and chai taste is personal but I think there must be others who want a stronger chai flavor 🙂
Why You Will Love This Iced Chai
FLAVOR! | You will get a cup of iced chai that actually has the taste of spices. Try mine as a base and then adjust to the strength and spices/flavor notes you prefer
No need to wait for your caffeine fix | You can pour over ice and enjoy right away
Save money | This homemade version is a great way to make the perfect drink tweaked to your preferences and save money spent on Starbucks iced chai latte.
How Is This Different?
After MANY experiments and failures here are the three key factors I kept playing with that made a difference:
➜Ratio of Ingredients: The strength of a chai latte largely depends on the ratio of tea concentrate to milk and ice. The problem with coffee shop versions is usually too much water which ends up tasting like cinnamon water with a hint of milk!
Also, a cold chai needs more spice, sugar, and tea than a warm chai for the flavors to come through.
➜Brewing Method: Traditional chai preparation involves simmering tea leaves and spices together to extract their flavors fully.
➜ A delicious Chai Masala Blend: Indian families keep chai spices ground and ready to go for a daily cup of chai. This blend of spices can vary from household to household and can be adjusted to the flavor notes you personally love to make the perfect spiced tea.
Note, people do sometimes use whole spices and I like to add in fresh ginger or mint leaves dependent on my mood.
Want to make hot masala chai? Try this version of chai made with oat milk. I’ll try to get a traditional version with dairy milk up soon!
Below are ingredient notes. Full ingredients and directions are in the printable recipe card at the end of the post.
➜ CTC Assam Tea: Wagh Bakri (CTC Assam Tea) is a popular brand of tea which I personally use, and using loose tea leaves adds a rich and authentic flavor to your chai. The tea leaves are usually a blend of Assam and Darjeeling teas, which provide a strong and robust base for the beverage.
Learn more about CTC tea. You can also use black tea bags. Tetley tea bags are a popular choice amongst Indian households.
➜Chai Masala Powder: Chai masala is a blend of various spices commonly used in traditional Indian chai. It typically includes spices like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and black peppercorns. Adding chai masala powder infuses the drink with a warm and aromatic complexity, making it distinctly flavorful.
➜Whole Milk: Milk is a crucial component of a chai latte, providing creaminess and body to the beverage. You can use dairy milk or a non-dairy, plant-based milk alternative like almond, soy, or coconut milk, depending on your dietary preferences.
➜Sugar: Sugar adds sweetness to the chai latte. The amount of sugar you add can be adjusted to your taste. No simple syrup is needed here. You can substitute with honey or maple syrup if that is your preference.
CTC Tea Vs Tea Bags
CTC Tea: I like using Wagh Bakri chai, which is a CTC tea. This type of tea is favored for making chai.
CTC tea stands for “Crush, Tear, Curl” tea. It is a type of tea production method and refers to the process by which the tea leaves are processed and prepared.
CTC tea is known for its strong and robust flavor, making it a popular choice for making strong black teas
Black tea bags: Growing up, we often used Tetley tea bags at home and it was very commonly used by, well, all the other Indian families I knew. This was before quality CTC and Indian groceries were as easily available as they are today.
How To Make Iced Chai
➜Place a pot on the stove on medium heat and add water, whole milk, chai masala powder, sugar, and tea.
➜Next add the milk and let it come to a rolling boil.
➜In about 3 minutes the chai will begin to boil and produce foam. The foam will rise to the top, before it reaches the top turn down the heat. Keep heat on medium or a notch below medium to let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Keep an eye on it and reduce the heat in time so it doesn’t spill over
➜Use a spoon or silicon spatula to scrape the sides of the pot so the tea stuck to the sides is mixed back in. Let it simmer on medium-low for 4-5 minutes.
➜You will get a rich, terra cotta-colored chai. Turn off the gas and remove pot from the stove.
(If you want to taste for desired sweetness level, this is the time to try).
➜Sieve through a fine mesh strainer. Use a spoon to press down on the tea leaves to get all that flavor out!
It makes just about once cup of creamy chai. Depending on your gas temperature and how long you boil it, it may be a little more or less.
Make Iced Chai
➜Take a glass and add ice cubes. Pour the chai mixture over ice and enjoy.
Feel free to customize the tea, milk, spices, and sugar proportions to suit your taste preferences.
Making your own iced chai latte at home allows you to have control over the ingredients and create a beverage that’s perfect for you.
If you want to make your own chai concentrate that tastes stronger than store-bought ones, stay tuned as I’m working on a homemade chai concentrate!
In this drink, the delicious warm spices come through and you get the strong chai flavor you are accustomed to!
Cleaning the Pot
I use a Hawkins brand pot for chai. It is stainless steel, has a heavy bottom, and a pouring spout. It’s a popular brand in India and available here in the US.
Here are some quick tips to help you clean the pot effectively:
- Rinse Immediately: After you’ve finished boiling chai, rinse the pot with hot water immediately. This helps prevent tea stains and residue from sticking to the pot’s surface.
- Use a Soft Cloth or Sponge: Use a soft cloth or sponge to gently scrub the inside of the pot. Avoid using abrasive scrubbers, as they can damage the pot’s surface.
3. Scorched pot: If the pot is scorched with a dark spot, using Ajax is an effective solution.
Remember, the key to effectively cleaning a pot after boiling chai is to act promptly, at least rinsing and soaking the pot to prevent sticking.
Just Say Chai
Notice the tea in the Iced Chai (tea) latte is in parenthesis? Do you know why? Because chai means tea. So, no one wants to go around saying tea tea right? 🙂
Starbucks has decided to use the word chai as a type of tea, which has created confusion everywhere.
What they are really trying to refer to is Masala Chai, masala means spice and chai means tea.
The Starbucks version is a mellow version of masala chai (using a watery Tazo chai concentrate.
Use a good CTC tea – it makes a difference in the flavor and doesn’t turn bitter while boiling.
Keep an eye on – It’s a pretty quick process, but you do have to play with the heat to ensure it doesn’t spill over and that it continues to simmer
Keep chai masala powder handy – You can certainly use whole spices but this Indian spice blend makes the process easy and its what most households use on a daily basis. Feel free to adjust or add extra fresh slices of ginger, mint leaves, or even rose petals to make it yours.
Have you tried this iced chai recipe? If so, I would greatly appreciate it if you could leave a comment and rate it with stars. It would mean a lot to me to hear how it turned out. If you’re on Instagram, please tag me so I can see your creation. Thank you for your support!
Better Than Starbucks Iced Chai (Tea) Latte
- 1 Pot
- 1 tea strainer
- 1 glass
- 2 tbsp water
- ½ tsp chai masala powder See notes for a small batch version or click link for more information and larger batch. See post for more details.
- 1 tbsp sugar sugar enhances the taste of the spices in a cold drink
- 2 tsp loose-leaf tea I use CTC tea – Wagh Bakri. You can substitute black tea bags, such as 2 Tetley tea bags.
- 1¼ cup whole milk Dairy milk works best. Plant-based milks can work but will result in a watery consistency.
- Add water, whole milk, chai masala powder, sugar, and tea to pot on medium-high heat. Let it come to rolling boil.
- In about 3 minutes the chai will begin to boil and produce foam. The foam will rise to the top, before it reaches the top turn down the heat. I like to let it rise twice by turning the heat up then back down. Use a spoon or silicon spatula to scrape the sides of the pot so the tea stuck to the sides is mixed back in. Then, keep heat on medium or a notch below medium to let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- You'll get a rich, terra cotta color chai.
- Turn off gas and strain tea. Use a spoon to press down on the tea leaves to get all that flavor out!
- Add ice to a glass and pour chai over it. Optionally top with whipped cream.